Macau, China: New Zealand’s Nick Voke eagled hole 17 on his way to a closing five-under-66 and a two-stroke win at the RMB1.5 million Macau Championship, becoming the PGA Tour Series-China’s first back-to-back winner since China’s ‘Marty’ Dou Zecheng achieved the feat in 2016.
Playing in the penultimate group, the 23-year-old Voke picked up four shots in the last six holes at Caesars Golf Club to finish 15-under and secure the RMB270,000 winner’s cheque, vaulting to third on the Order of Merit with RMB602,000.
American Trevor Sluman shot 67 to secure second at 13-under, while 21-year-old Chinese ‘Carl’ Yuan Yechun posted a 70 to share third at 12-under alongside Americans Ryann Ree (70) and Jeffrey Kang (67), Tour debutant Luke Kwon of Korea (67) and Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira (71). England’s Callum Tarren, second on the Order of Merit, carded a 68 to share eighth with Indian Rigel Fernandes, who closed with a 65 in his first Tour event.
Voke tied for fourth in his Tour debut at the Suzhou Open in early September and won the Qinhuangdao Championship the following week, before finishing third at an Asian Tour event in Korea. He then practiced in Thailand for a week before coming to Macau, where he continued his remarkable recent run.
The Kiwi started the final day three shots behind co-leaders Joseph Winslow and Todd Baek, and shot three birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, before moving up the gears on the closing holes with birdies on 13 and 15 and a stunning eagle on 17.
“It was a big day out there. On the front nine, I didn’t quite have it. I was hitting some below-average approach shots. Fortunately, I hit it really close on number nine and made the turn at one-under, and I really wanted to get some momentum on the back nine,” said Voke, who was tied for the lead before his eagle gave him a two-stroke buffer.
“I hit a good drive on 17 and had 241 yards left to the flag. I only wanted to hit it about 230 yards, then slightly pulled it and it managed to finish 29 feet from the flag. So walking up there I knew a two-putt would be huge. I just hit a good putt with good speed, and it managed to find its way to the bottom of the hole.”
The methodical Voke, who is 17th on this year’s PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, credits his current form to improving both his driving and putting from between five to 15 feet, and his strategic approach paid off in Macau.
“I know what I need to do to play well. I know if I play this golf course 100 times, my scoring will be at its best if I play it a certain way, so I stuck to my strategy. I think I got a few lucky breaks and you need that to win,” said Voke, who celebrated with compatriot on the 18th green.
Sluman, 25, was delighted after securing his highest finish in his first year on the Tour and moving to ninth on the Order of Merit.
Sluman, who played golf at the University of Louisville, said: “This definitely changes the mindset going into the next two events, trying to get into that top-five. The whole goal from the beginning of the year was to get that top-10 and go to the final stage (of Web.com Tour qualifying), so I’m really excited for the next events in Zhuhai and Hong Kong.”
From the 2018 PGA Tour Series-China Order of Merit, the top-five will earn status on next year’s Web.com Tour. The top-10 players are exempt to the Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament and any player ranked 11-25 is exempt to the Second Qualifying Stage.
Hanoi, Vietnam: Le Hoang Phuong, a respected figure in golf in Vietnam, has been appointed as a Senior Advisor to the Asian Golf Industry Federation.