GUANGZHOU: A superb final round 64 (-6) saw Chieh Po Lee of Chinese Taipei win the Guangzhou Nansha International Qualifying event by two shots today (Friday) and clinch his place in the 2019 Volvo China Open.
Lee’s 36-hole total of ten-under-par (130) over the Valley Course earned him an invite to compete in the 25th anniversary of China’s National Open Golf Championship where he will be joined by Sweden’s Andreas Gronkvist (-8) and Lee’s compatriot Lu Sen Lien (-6) who finished second and third respectively.
It will be a second Volvo China Open appearance in four years for 24-year-old Lee, who last qualified for the RMB 20 million European Tour-sanctioned event in 2016.
“I was really focused today and didn’t look to see how the others were playing,” said a delighted Lee, whose 64 included six birdies and followed an opening round 66 (-4). “Overall I think I played better yesterday but I hit 15 greens in regulation today so my putting was crucial as I find the greens quite tough here.”
Despite not having played any tournament golf since Asian Tour Q School two months ago, Lee is now bound for the Volvo China Open in Shenzhen and has high hopes of doing well in less than two months’ time. “I played the course about five years ago but I’ll still go early, prepare for the Volvo China Open like any other tournament and hope to finish in the top 25,” he added.
While Lee celebrated, there was also huge relief for overnight leader Gronkvist whose Volvo China Open journey was almost derailed with two double bogeys in his opening five holes. But the World Number 841 rallied with six birdies to card a second round one-under-par 69 and secure second place.
“I felt a little tired this morning so I knew it would be a tough day and I’d have to really focus,” said the Swede, who will make his debut at the Volvo China Open. “Unfortunately, I had a terrible start and snap hooked my opening shot on to the driving range.
“I pretty much wiped out my lead on the first hole – it was a pretty stressful day after that so the birdie on the second was such a key moment. I was happy to make the turn in level par and delighted to finish with two birdies in the last three holes to qualify. I hit the ball well and my putting was great so the mistakes were really just down to fatigue.”
While Lee and Gronkvist went into the final round holding two of the top three qualifying places, it was Lien who made the move of the day with a stunning 64 (-6) firing him up the leaderboard from a share of eighth place to earn a place in the Volvo China Open for the third year in a row.
“I didn’t do anything special to prepare for today’s round except relax as I am not so young anymore,” smiled 44-year-old Lien, who won last year’s International Qualifying. “I was a little nervous at the start but my putting was very good and that was the key to getting six birdies today.”
With Lee, Gronkvist and Lien confirming their places, there are now nine remaining qualifying spots available and these will be decided at the Guangzhou Nansha Domestic Qualifying event also to be held at Nansha Golf Club from March 18-20. Sport Desk