Haikou, China: Singapore’s Quincy Quek carded a two-over 73 to secure a two-stroke victory over China’s ‘Bobby’ Bai Zhengkai at the Haikou Classic, the fourth to final event on this year’s PGA Tour Series-China.
Starting the day with a six-stroke lead at Mission Hills Haikou, Quek held on to earn his biggest professional win. In so doing, he became the first Singaporean to win on the Tour.
Bai fired a 66 for the third consecutive day but fell just short in his bid to win a second Tour title. The 22-year-old won the Huangshan Championship in June and is highest-ranked player from China on the Order of Merit, now in sixth after his solo-second finish this week.
Australian James Marchesani shot a closing 68 to tie for third with Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wei-hsuan (66), and American Brad Gehl (69), who played in the final group with Quek and Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chieh-po (71).
Quek has been playing on the Tour since the inaugural season in 2014 and had recorded three top-five career finishes. However, he had yet to win in his previous 38 starts. That all changed this week after the 32-year-old opened with rounds of 65-67-63 to give himself a nice cushion going into Sunday.
Although the final round was not as solid as his opening three days, Quek overcame three bogeys to earn the title, less than a month after capturing the Asian Development Tour’s PGM Northport ADT Championship in Kuala Lumpur, his first title since 2012.
“I think this win will hit me maybe later. Now I’m just trying to absorb everything, but I’m very happy and very pleased with how the week has gone,” said Quek, who lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter in Singapore. “Today was a very long round, and it felt like forever, but I finally got across the finish line.”
Quek didn’t make it easy on himself. After dropping a shot on his second hole, Quek failed to get any momentum going, making nine consecutive pars before a birdie on 12 brought him back to even. From there, Quek dropped back-to-back shots on holes 16 and 17 but managed to close with a par, much to his relief.
He said: “I felt today was quite challenging, and I didn’t hit it as close as I did the last three days. Trying to get some birdies was a little bit tough, but I kept my head in the game and kept making pars and tried to look away from the leaderboard as much as possible. So when I made the last putt, the tap-in for the win, I was just relieved it was finally over.”
At the start of the event, Quek knew he needed to make a move if he wanted to have a chance to play on the Korn Ferry Tour next year. He is in a good position to make that final push. After starting the week 32nd on the Order of Merit, Quek has jumped to ninth after netting the RMB288,000 winner’s cheque.
“My goal this week was just to make the cut because I was sort of on the cut line to keep my card. Coming into this week my game was looking not too bad, and I liked this course and I’ve had good results here. I felt this was a good week for me to make a move.”
Bai came out of the gate running, following a birdie on his opening hole with an eagle on three and a birdie on seven before a ninth-hole bogey halted his momentum. He added two more birdies on the back nine to put some pressure on Quek coming down the stretch.
It wasn’t enough, but it was an admirable performance from the former University of Central Florida (UCF) player who recovered from an opening-round 72 to give himself a shot at the title.
Bai, who turned pro in May and is still attending online classes at UCF while he competes in China, is planning to graduate a semester early – at the end of this year – and concentrate on golf full time.
“There are a few events left and I want to focus on those. I’m getting more and more confident each week, and I am excited to keep the momentum going next week in Zhuzhou and try to play on the Korn Ferry Tour next year.”
The top-five finishers on this year’s Order of Merit will earn Korn Ferry Tour membership for the 2020 season.