Suzhou, Jiangsu, China: Canada’s Richard Jung holed a huge birdie putt on the final hole for a closing four-under 68 and a wire-to-wire win at the Suzhou Open, finishing two ahead of playing partner ‘Carl’ Yuan Yechun of China, who led by one heading to the last but finished with a double-bogey in his first event as a pro.
Jung, 25, carded a 21-under total of 267 at Jinji Lake Golf Club, where big crowds – many hoping to see Yuan win his first event as a pro – enjoyed a dramatic weekend of action despite weather delays in the 10th of 14 events on this year’s PGA Tour Series-China.
The Canadian shared the lead after the first three completed rounds with England’s Callum Tarren (71) – second on the Order of Merit – who also played in the final group and double-bogeyed the last to finish third at 18-under.
Korean Todd Baek (68) and American Joseph Winslow (71), both in the top-five of the Order of Merit, finished 17-under to share fourth with New Zealand’s Nick Voke (65), impressing on his Tour debut.
Japan’s Taihei Sato (67) was seventh at 16-under, two ahead of Order of Merit leader Charlie Saxon (70), while Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira (71), sixth on the money list, was ninth at 12-under.
Jung was one behind Yuan after 10 holes of the third round when play stopped on Saturday, but finished the round on Sunday morning in a share of the lead with Tarren, the duo starting with rounds of 65, 67 and 67.
Jung was trailing Yuan by one at the 18th, where the 21-year-old Chinese sliced his tee-shot into trouble and hacked his second into the rough on the way to a double, while the Seoul-born Canadian hit a six-iron approach to almost 40 feet before holing the birdie putt and celebrating wildly.
“Once Yuan hit his second shot in the rough again, I was very relieved because that really took off a lot of pressure. I knew that if I just made par and he somehow made a bogey, then there would still be a play-off,” said Jung, playing in his first season on the Tour.
“I stayed relaxed, hit a draw six-iron and the ball stayed dead still and it was close to a 40-footer for birdie. Then I dropped the bomb, so I was very happy with that.”
Jung was thrilled with how he kept his composure in front of the huge crowds and was even happier to secure his biggest win as a pro, which should propel him into the top-10 of the Order of Merit with four events left.
“I loved the crowds. I played once before in crowds this big, but it has been a while since I’ve been in front of this many people. It was a little nerve-racking, but I held myself together so I’m thrilled,” said Jung, whose previous best result this year was a tie for eighth at the season-opening Chengdu Championship.
“Happy is one word I can say right now. So happy to get the first win under my belt. I’ve been in this position a few times, but just couldn’t bring her home so I’m very happy with how I played today.”
Yuan, who turned pro on Tuesday after winning a team silver medal in the Asian Games last week, almost won his first event as a pro six weeks after becoming only the second amateur to win on the Tour, having to decline the RMB 270,000 winner’s cheque after claiming the Qingdao Championship in July.
Yuan has played in the final round’s last group for the fourth time in five events on this year’s Tour, but surprised himself in Suzhou, after not playing his best at last week’s Asian Games.
“I am happy with my performance. I didn’t play my best at the Asian Games, so I didn’t have too high expectations this week. This is my first event after turning pro, so it was good to play so well,” said Yuan, who is hoping to come back stronger from the defeat.
“Golf always has its ups and downs, so as a player I’m sure I’ll learn from it and be able to adapt better next time. It’s the experience that counts and although I missed the title, I’m not too unhappy.”
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