Qinhuangdao, China: American Luke Kwon overcame a double bogey on hole 16 then closed with back-to-back birdies to hold off Myles Creighton (69) and secure a one-stroke victory at the Qinhuangdao Championship.
American Matthew Negri, playing in the final group with Canadian Creighton and Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wei-hsuan, carded a 70 to share third with Thai Suteepat Prateeptienchai (67). Wang was leading at the start of the day but dropped into solo fifth after a final round 72.
Playing in the penultimate group, 26-year-old Kwon, who moved to fourth on the Order of Merit, started the day four shots off the lead but quickly found himself among the leaders after going eight-under through 13 holes at Qinhuangdao Poly Golf Club. From there it was neck and neck until the end.
After a bogey on 14, Kwon still held a one-shot lead before the double bogey on 16 dropped him one shot behind Creighton. With two holes left to play, Kwon drained a 30-footer for birdie on 17 before sinking another birdie putt from seven feet on the final hole. Meanwhile, Creighton was finishing with five straight pars.
“I really needed that birdie on 17. It was huge. I was feeling a bit down and was looking at a long putt from around 30 feet, and it went in,” said Kwon, an avid videographer whose You Tube channel has more than 11,000 subscribers. “My putting had been good all week, and thankfully it saved me again today. I made some clutch putts at the end.”
It makes sense that Kwon is playing in China, seeing that he has no trouble fitting in in any part of the world. Kwon was born in Seoul, Korea, and currently resides in Auckland, New Zealand, where he also lived when aged between two and eight. He then moved to Dallas, Texas before deciding to play golf at the University of Oklahoma, where he played alongside current Tour player Max McGreevy and Charlie Saxon, the Tour’s all-time leader in money earned.
Kwon made his PGA Tour Series-China debut late in 2018, at the Macau Championship, and is now a Tour winner in just his eighth event, three wins behind Saxon’s four career titles.
“I was feeling the nerves coming down the stretch, but I couldn’t be happier with the finish. This win really means a lot to me,” said Kwon, who was modest when being compared to Saxon. “That’s a tall task, but I wouldn’t mind copying him. He’s a good friend. We played together a lot in college and he’s done really well out here. Hopefully I can catch him one day.”
Creighton, who finished tied for ninth last week in Beijing, was disappointed, especially after seeing his 20-foot putt on 17 lip out. He said: “On 17 I hit one of the best putts I hit all week. It never looked like it was going to miss, but it ended up catching the high side and lipped out.
“It was nice to show myself today that I could go out and shoot a good round. Last week I was two back instead of one back, and I ended up shooting two-over in the last round. I wanted to have a better showing than last week.”