Hong Kong: New Zealand’s Nick Voke won his third PGA Tour Series-China in four events at the season-ending RMB2 million Clearwater Bay Open to bank RMB360,000 and finish third on the Order of Merit, so joining four other Tour players on the 2019 Web.com Tour.
Starting the final day five strokes clear, Voke shot a third consecutive three-under 67 for a 14-under total at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club.
In a dramatic turn of events, England’s Callum Tarren fired a 62 to finish solo second and win the Order of Merit by less than RMB3,000 from American Charlie Saxon, while Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira and Korean Todd Baek finished fourth and fifth on the money list to also secure Web.com Tour membership.
American Benjamin Lein shot 65 to secure third place at 10-under, three shots ahead of compatriot Charlie Netzel (64), Thai Gunn Charoenkul (68) and Australian Deyen Lawson (68). Korean Kim Tae-woo, who played in Sunday’s final group for a second successive year, carded 70 to take seventh at six-under, one ahead of England’s William Harrold (67).
Voke, 23, continued his remarkable recent run on the PGA Tour Series-China, which started with a tie for fourth in Suzhou followed by back-to-back wins in Qinhuangdao and Macau last month. After a tie for 16th in last week’s Zhuhai Championship, the rookie pro returned to his winning ways to collect the biggest cheque presented on the Tour.
“It’s been a really awesome run of golf and I’m really excited to see what I do in the next couple of years. This win means a hell of a lot, to be honest with you,” said Voke.
“The first couple of victories I managed to come from behind, so to come out here with a five-shot lead and know that everyone is chasing me, it’s a different sort of victory. I’m very proud with how I handled myself and how I went out and played today. It’s absolutely the greatest pro week I’ve had so far.”
Voke had admitted he was shaking with nerves while in the lead on Saturday, but managed to stay calm in front of big crowds and hold on to the lead by carding four birdies and one bogey. Voke had also made only one bogey in each of his previous three rounds.
“I drove it very well all week and didn’t make many opportunities to make bogeys. I only made four in the end so that just summarises how it was for me out there. Just very solid and steady golf,” said Voke.
“I’m pretty exhausted and absolutely thrilled to be where I am and I think it will take me a couple weeks to realise what I’ve accomplished. Right now, though, I’m just pretty tired.”
Despite feeling some pressure from Tarren entering the back-nine, Voke remained calm and managed to grind it out on the back-nine.
“The first time I saw the leaderboard was on the ninth green and I knew Callum was going deep and I had to keep things going if I wanted to win,” said Voke. “Just a good gritty effort, that back nine. I stuck to my gameplan and I felt the pressure, but I handled myself and my emotions and some adversity so I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Tarren, 28, recorded his fourth runner-up finish of the season to secure the number one position on the Order of Merit, despite never having won on the Tour, which he first played in 2016 when he finished eighth on the money list.
The Englishman carded eight birdies in a bogey-free round as he looked to put the pressure on Voke. “I went out today and thought if I could put some pressure on Nick early on and see what nerve he has … and obviously he has pretty solid nerves,” said Tarren, who admitted he was surprised to win the Order of Merit.
“I’m just shocked and I’m just over the moon. I felt calm all day because at the end of the day I needed something special to catch Charlie and luckily I’ve produced that. Even on the last hole, I was calm because it was either win, second or bust, so I just had to perform and luckily I did.”