Beijing, China: Li Haotong recorded a brilliant victory in the Volvo China Open, further placing mainland golf on the global map following countryman Wu Ashun’s success last year.
Li showed why he is China’s great new hope by firing a brave and unblemished eight-under-par 64 at Topwin Golf and Country Club to beat Chilean Felipe Aguilar by three strokes.
Li, from Hunan, is the fourth Chinese player to win the Volvo China Open in the event’s 22-year history
Aguilar, joint leader at the start of the day with Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, returned at 69 in the season-opening event on OneAsia, jointly sanctioned with the European Tour.
Bjerregaard, in with a 70, tied for third a stroke further back with Germany’s Marcel Siem and Richard Bland from England, who both carded 66.
Li, just 20 years old, began the day two shots off the lead. However, with huge home support backing his every shot, he reeled in Aguilar and held a share of the lead as he stood on the 17th tee.
The Chinese golfer birdied the penultimate hole to get to 22-under and when Aguilar – playing in the group behind – put his tee-shot on the 16th into the water, a par at the last was enough to give Li victory.
It is his second OneAsia win after his success in the 2014 Nanshan China Masters and first European Tour title. “I just tried to relax myself and I’m really really happy to hold the trophy,” he said.
Li appeared not to realise he had the lead until he was on the 18th fairway and he admitted he was grateful to his caddie for reining in the aggressive approach that had served him so well all week.
“When I had my tee-shot, I walked to my second shot and I was thinking I need to go hybrid to get to the front edge to give me an easy chip. But my caddie said: ‘Haotong, you’re already three shots in the lead, you’ve just got to lay up and make par to win’. So thanks to him!”
OneAsia now heads to Korea for the 35th GS Caltex Maekyung Open at Namseoul Country Club, from May 5-8.
Korean Moon Kyong-jun – reigning OneAsia Order of Merit champion – will attempt to defend his title.