Chengdu, Sichuan, China: Jeffrey Kang shot a sensational eight-under 64 – his second in three days – to secure a five-shot victory at the RMB1.5 million Chengdu Championship, the opening event on this season’s PGA Tour Series-China.
Bouncing back from an opening 74, American Kang posted a stunning 20-under total of 268 at Luxehills International Country Club after shooting 22-under in his last 54 holes (64-66-64).
The Los Angeles-born 26-year-old, who speaks English and Korean, finished five strokes clear of English duo Callum Tarren (69) and William Harrold (67), and Korea-born American Yoon Se-jun (68).
Hong Kong’s Jason Hak Shun-yat, leader for the first three rounds, carded a 73 to share fifth place with China’s Daxing Jin (69) and Japan’s Kenta Konishi (69) on 14-under.
Kang, who started the day three behind Hak, fired out of the blocks with birdies on the first and third and an eagle on the par-five seventh, having chipped in to save par on the par-four sixth.
The American pulled away on the back nine as he picked up further shots on 10, 12, 13 and 15 before bogeying 17. Finally, in front of huge galleries, he birdied the par-five 18th, where many of his American and Korean friends doused him in water.
Kang, who carded 25 birdies and two eagles in 72 holes, was then overwhelmed by the prize presentation where thousands of spectators, hundreds of caddies and volunteers, and even four giant panda mascots, were among those cheering his name.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my entire career. It was a lot of fun to play in front of a lot of people and the course conditions were just awesome,” said Kang, who played in the penultimate group with Tarren and Jin.
“The galleries this week started from hole one, really. It was something I had never experienced and to have my friends and everyone come out to celebrate was fun.”
Kang – who won last month’s first International Qualifying Tournament – admitted he was concerned about making the cut after finding himself three-over after nine holes on Thursday following a triple-bogey on 18, having teed off on 10.
However, following a two-over opening round, he put together the performance of his career.
“This is probably one of my best-ever performances and definitely my biggest career win. After the first round, I did not expect to be where I am now. I’ve never played 36 or 54 successive holes this well before,” Kang said.
“I’ve been playing great and it was just a matter of time,” he added. “I’m glad it all came together. The keys were my iron game and my putting. I gave myself a lot of good birdie looks. For the last 36 holes, I probably missed only one green.”
Kang has now put himself in pole position on the path to the Web.com Tour following the first of 14 events. The top five on the money list will all earn status on next year’s Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA Tour.
“Getting on the Web.com Tour was the goal at the start of the year and the start of this week,” said Kang, who played on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada in 2016 and in some OneAsia events last year.
“I’m really happy that I’m on pace already. My goal hasn’t changed, to win the money list and, if not, get top five and get Web.com status.”