Nantong, China: With rain pouring down, Kevin Techakanokboon made an eight-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off to defeat Stephen Lewton and win the Nantong Championship.
Techakanokboon began the day one stroke behind 54-hole leader Max McGreevy and turned in a stellar final-day performance, shooting a closing 67 at Nantong Yangtze River Golf Club. A bogey on his last hole of regulation made Techakanokboon work a little harder for his second Tour title that goes with his 2018 Zhuhai Championship triumph.
To get to the play-off, a lot of action took place on the 72nd hole of the tournament. On the tee, Techakanokboon held a one-shot lead over McGreevy and a two-shot advantage on Lewton.
But Lewton gave himself a chance by sinking a 38-foot birdie putt to move to 17-under. Techakanokboon faced an eight-foot par putt that would have given him the win, but he missed, a bogey dropping him to 17-under. McGreevy couldn’t join the play-off when he bogeyed the 18th. He finished third at 16-under.
In the play-off, both holes were contested on the course’s 18th with Techakanokboon and Lewton parring the first extra hole. Techakanokboon finally prevailed on his third playing of the 18th hole in the space of 45 minutes when Lewton couldn’t make a 30-foot birdie effort.
“I’m pretty pleased,” said Techakanokboon. “I just wanted to come out and play well. I didn’t have expectations or anything. There are a lot of positives to this one.”
For all of Sunday, it was essentially a three-player race between Techakanokboon, McGreevy and Lewton. Through 10 holes, McGreevy held a one-shot lead over Techakanokboon with Lewton two strokes further back. His lead could have been more, but McGreevy missed a four-foot birdie putt at 10.
Techakanokboon drew level with McGreevy when he birdied 13, the duo sharing a one-stroke lead over Lewton. It stayed that way until the par-three 16th when Techakanokboon pulled ahead with a tap-in birdie, almost making a hole-in-one. Lewton, too, birdied the hole to move to 17-under and into a tie with McGreevy.
Lewton dropped a shot at the 17th before his final-hole heroics. The short miss at 10 typified McGreevy’s back-nine putting. He missed several birdie chances coming in but none more painful than the 3½-footer he couldn’t sink on 18 that would have given him a spot in the play-off.
Techakanokboon improved to third on the Order of Merit through six events, positioning himself nicely for the second half of the season. It’s also been a steady climb in the Official World Golf Ranking for Techakanokboon, a California native who splits his time between the Golden State and his parents’ birthplace of Thailand.
He fell as low as 2,056th in the world before winning in Zhuhai seven months ago, a victory that improved his standing to 895th. He entered this week at his high-water mark of 761st.