Mikko Amazed at Play-Off Triumph


Resplendent in the winner’s gold jacket, Mikko Korhonen raises aloft the Volvo China Open trophy.

Shenzhen, China: Finland’s Mikko Korhonen ensured his first play-off duel would end in victory when he drained an 11-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a sudden-death shootout to defeat Frenchman Benjamin Hebert at the 25th anniversary edition of the Volvo China Open.

Together with Spain’s Jorge Campillo, the Finn began his final round at the Genzon Golf Club three shots behind Hebert in a share of second place.

The trio were tussling for the lead for much of the final day and were all tied at 19-under-par when they approached the 17th tee. 

Korhonen gained an advantage there with a birdie after Campillo and Hebert both made pars. However, Hebert, forced the contest into extra-time when he converted a birdie chance on 18 for a final round three-under-par 69.

Campillo bowed out after signing for a 67, leaving Hebert and Korhonen to head back to the 18th tee after they both finished regulation play with four-day totals of 20-under-par 268. 

It was the 38-year-old Finn who prevailed. “It’s an amazing feeling. I don’t know how I did it,” said Korhonen, who claimed his maiden European Tour title at the 146th attempt at last year’s inaugural Shot Clock Masters. “It’s probably the putter that was my winning formula this week. I made lots of putts from outside 15-20 feet.

“I was happy to get into the play-off. It was my first time in a play-off and I had nothing to lose. I just had to make birdie. Winning a golf tournament is never easy. It was a battle all day as everyone was making putts and I had to stay patient and do the same. It’s great to have this second win in the bag.”

Li Haotong had a birdie-birdie finish to rise to outright fourth place and emerge as the leading Chinese player.

“I played quite solid this weekend but still made a couple of mistakes. But overall, I’m happy. It’s very pleasing to come back home and play like this. It was great to see Kuang Yang making the cut. It’s amazing to see these juniors making Chinese people proud.”

While Li was the highest-placed Chinese player from the 45 who started the tournament, 17-year-old Liang Enqi produced a closing 70 to finish on 10-under par for a share of 29th place and with it the prize for the highest finish by an amateur player. His 14-year-old friend Kuang Yang, the schoolboy who is the second youngest player to make the cut in a European Tour event, closed with a 73 and a share of 55th place.

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