YE Yang shrugged of the effects of a marathon 30-hour journey to claim victory in the Volvo China Open at Jinji Lake International Golf Club. Yang, who finished in a tie for 8th place in last weekend’s US Masters made his appearance in the tournament following his massive trip from the United States to China, and was always in contention.
The win gave the Korean his third European Tour title but required a battling final round to eventually edge out the chasing pack. Leading by one shot going into the final round, Yang held off strong challenges from a host of players including Rhys Davis and former champion Stephen Dodd, who was bidding to become the first player to win the event more than once.
However, hard luck story of the day perhaps belongs to Wales’ Jamie Donaldson. The Welshman had pushed Yang all the way in the final round until the 13th hole, which proved unlucky for the player. A birdie on the 12th had put Donaldson into a share of the lead with the Korean, but he recorded a double-bogey five after a nonchalant flick at a tap-in for bogey cost him dear. Despite a birdie on the 14th hole, Donaldson never really recovered from that blow and finished with back-to-back bogeys to slip back into a tie for fourth place.
Donaldson’s fellow Welshman, Rhys Davies signalled his burgeoning talent with a bogey-free round of 67 to push him into second place alongside Stephen Dodd. Davies, who captured his first Tour win since graduating from the Challenge Tour at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, recorded the best scores over the final two rounds of the tournament and racked up a sequence of 43 holes consecutive holes played without dropping a shot.
Dodd, who won the event in 2004, meanwhile recorded four birdies in his round of 69 but he could have finished closer to Yang if Dodd had been able to convert some of his birdie chances.
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen struggled on the damp final day and eventually finished with a round of 73 to drop back into a tie for fourth with Donaldson and Sweden’s Johan Edfors, who represented our tipster’s pick. Edfors held every chance of posting a success heading into the back nine and a pair of birdies on the 14th and 15th holes put the Swede just two behind Yang. But he couldn’t find the extra birdies he needed, and a bogey on the last cost him a share of second. Still, each-way backers of the Swede should be collecting!
Oliver Fisher, who lost his card at the end of last season, claimed a fourth consecutive top-10 finish after a closing 69 ensured seventh place.
A host of players finished together for a share of eighth place, including our second tipster’s second pick, Graeme McDowall, as well as the Asian number one, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and world number 16, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson among others.
But it was Yang who held on in dogged fashion to record the win, despite some errant driving from the tee. Time and again, the little Korean grimaced as he watched his tee-shot and the US PGA champion can perhaps put this success down to his short game and putting. Yang showed his deftness around the greens with some superb bunker play and approaches, and his putter was red-hot from inside the ten-footer range to keep him ahead of the pack and maintain his advantage.