Flying Finn Korhonen Comes Storming Back to Win Volvo China Open
Mikko Korhonen overcame a three-shot deficit to win the Volvo China Open after a playoff with Benjamin Hebert. On a dramatic final day, Korhonen, Hebert and Jorge Campillo produced some sparkling golf as they went head to head for the title at Genzon Golf Club.
Korhonen and Hebert completed 72 holes in 20 under par - one shot clear of Campillo - and a birdie from 11 feet at the first trip back up the 18th handed the 38-year-old the trophy and the golden jacket.
He has now won in back to back seasons after his triumph at the Shot Clock Masters and moves into the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking. Korhonen was thrilled with his victory and put it down to a wonderful week on the greens. "It’s an amazing feeling," he said. "I don’t know how I did it but it’s probably the putter that was my winning formula this week. I made lots of putts from outside 15-20 feet this week. 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 and I’m delighted."
For Hebert - a six time winner on the European Challenge Tour - the search for his first European Tour victory goes on, but it surely won’t be long in coming. "Looking at the way I played, I’m happy," he said. "Mikko played great today and he didn’t make any mistakes and putted well. I’m still chasing my first win. I got close this week and I have to be more consistent and see what happens."
Campillo moved up to second in the Race to Dubai with a fifth top three in his last six starts, including last week's maiden triumph at the Trophée Hassan II.
Korhonen set the tone when he rolled in a long putt on the first, with Campillo making a birdie-birdie start, but Hebert also made gain on the par five second to be two ahead. Campillo found a nasty lie on the fourth and Hebert was three ahead again but it was all change on the next. Korhonen hole dyed another long putt for birdie with Campillo following him in from 15 feet and, with Hebert making a first bogey of the day, the lead was cut to one.
A 10-foot foot putt on the next gave Korhonen a share of the lead but he missed the green at the par three eighth and slipped back to 16 under. Hebert sent his second on the ninth right but got a nice bounce off a tree, allowing him to get up and down for birdie, with Campillo also making a gain.
Campillo rolled in from 18 and 15 feet on the tenth and 11th to make it a hat-trick of birdies but Korhonen was inside him on both occasions and followed him in. A tee shot to eight feet on the 12th handed Campillo a two shot lead but Hebert and Korhonen both birdied the par five 13th after laying up and a Campillo bogey on the 14th after finding the water meant there was a three way tie.
Campillo and Hebert both hit poor tee shots on the next and missed short putts but Korhonen's time at the top on his own did not last long, as his two rivals hit wonderful tee shots on the par three 16th to bounce back with birdies. The rain began to pour down with the final group on the 17th fairway and with all three players laying up, it was Korhonen who holed from around 13 feet to take a one shot lead up the last.
The 18th tee had been brought up and Hebert took out the driver and hit the green at the par four, sealing a birdie and a place in the playoff as Campillo and Korhonen made pars.
Home favourite Li Haotong had a birdie-birdie finish in his 66 to secure solo fourth at 16 under, a shot clear of countryman Wu Ashun, French pair Romain Langasque and Mike Lorenzo-Vera, American David Lipsky and England's Jordan Smith.
TWO years ago Max Homa earned around $20,000 after a miserable time on the PGA Tour. His life is now very different after he held off a stellar field to win the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. And boy did he earn that victory.
Homa had a three-shot lead when play was suspended Sunday. He’d taken the safe route on the reachable par-four 14th, but then pulled his wedge shot and watched it bounce off the green and into the rough. His chip shot ran six feet past the hole moments before Quail Hollow was pelted by a heavy downpour. Homa took one last look at the putt before being evacuated to the clubhouse. He was prepared for a delay. He’d endured two the previous day. His coach, Les Johnson, texted him Sunday morning and said, “There's going to be adversity. There might be a delay. Just prepare yourself.”
Homa described the hour-long wait as “brutal.”“That wait was actually pretty bad,” he said. “That was tough. That's when you've got to grow up a little bit.” He revealed that phoned his fiancée and his coach during the delay and told them he was so nervous that he thought he might be physically sick. Homa insists that he hadn’t looked at any leaderboard and didn’t;t where he stood in the tournament until he asked his caddie, Joe Greiner, as they prepared to return to the course.
Homa thought he needed the six-footer to stay in the lead. Then he learned that he was three shots ahead. “I knew in the back of my mind that if I make that putt, I win this golf tournament,” Homa said. “When I made that putt, I knew I was in a good spot both in the tournament but also mentally to be able to do that.”
He birdied the next hole before cautiously navigating Quail Hollow’s water-lined closing holes. He played that trio in 1 over to win by three shots over Joel Dahmen. It was Homa’s first PGA Tour win. He put on an impressive putting display, leading the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week and the final round. He didn’t make any putts outside 15 feet in the final round, but he gained strokes by being flawless from inside that distance. “I putted awesome this whole week,” Homa said, “and I stood up on that putt and we had a great read, and it was great to see it go in because I think I knew my golf game was good enough to do this, (but) there's a lot of doubts because when you haven't been here.”
He earned his first winner’s cheque by shooting 67 to finish at 15-under 269 (69-63-70-67). Joel Dahmen, who also was seeking his first PGA Tour win, finished alone in second. The victory moved Homa to 35th in the FedExCup standings and earned him a two-year exemption. Homa finished 163rd and 244th in the FedExCup in his first two PGA Tour seasons. “The only goal I had this year was to make it to the Tour Championship, so that’s obviously a big boost there,” Homa said. “Moving up that FedExCup’s sweet. The job security’s probably a little sweeter. I know it’s been tough on my family.”
The reigning FedExCup champion, Justin Rose, finished four back. Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey and Jason Dufner all tied for fourth. Rory McIlroy was two shots back at the start of the day, but faded to eighth place with a 73.
Back in 2017, Homa shot a cumulative 61-over-par in 17 starts. “I refuse to give in and I believe that hard work will pay off,” he said. He made two birdies and no bogeys on the front nine to take a one-shot lead at the turn. He pulled away by holing putts of 14 and 13 feet to birdie the 10th and 11th holes.
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