Yang holds off Welsh challenge
YE Yang needed just two birdies in Sunday’s final round to win the Volvo China Open at Jinji Lake International Golf Club.
PGA Champion YE Yang needed just two final-round birdies to win the Volvo China Open by two shots on a damp, drizzly Sunday at Jinji Lake International Golf Club.
Yang, 38, held a one-shot overnight lead but a battling one-under-par final round of 71 was enough to top the leaderboard at 15 under and win by two strokes from in-form Challenge Tour graduate Rhys Davies and Welsh compatriot Stephen Dodd, a former champion.
Yang went 50 holes from Friday afternoon without dropping a shot, although the Korean was denied a bogey-free last round on the final green after finding sand off the tee.
Fresh from posting a maiden European Tour win at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco last month, Davies followed up a flawless third-round 65 with a bogey-free 67, meaning the Welshman did not drop a shot over his final 43 holes as he posted the best scores over the final two rounds.
Dodd, the 2004 champion, joined compatriot Davies at 13-under-par after carding four birdies in a final round of 69.
Another Welshman, Jamie Donaldson (73), had kept the pressure on Yang for much of the final round and finished with back-to-back birdies to share fourth place with Fin Mikko Ilonen (73) and Swede Johan Edfors (69).
Oliver Fisher, who lost his card at the end of last season, claimed a fourth consecutive top-10 finish after a closing 69 that ensured him of seventh place.
Graeme McDowell (68), Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee (69), Nicolas Colsaerts (69), world number 16 Henrik Stenson (69), Alexander Noren (70), Ross McGowan (70), halfway leader Kim Do-hoon (72) and Pablo Larrazabal (73) all shared eighth, rounding out the top 10 at 10 under par.
After a persistent light rain hitting the course just as the leaders began their final rounds, Yang maintained a one-shot lead over Donaldson at the turn, managing just a solitary early birdie at the second after a decision to take on the longest hole on the course in two paid dividends.
After Donaldson missed a 20-foot birdie chance at the 10th by an inch, Yang looked to be in trouble at the 11th after hitting into a deep-sided pot bunker at the side of the green, but not for the first time this week showed superb touch to chip to inside two feet.
Donaldson finally joined Yang at the top of the leaderboard with a short putt at the par-five 12th but the Welshman’s luck ran out just a hole later with a three-putt double-bogey at the par three.
After missing the green off the raised tee box, his six-foot par putt lipped out before a seemingly straightforward bogey conversion from barely a foot rolled around the cup and somehow stayed above ground.
For the second time in three holes Yang again needed a deft chip to escape another deep bunker at the 13th and rolled in a four-foot par putt.
After dropping two adrift alongside Davies, Edfors and Dodd, Donaldson bounced back with a fourth birdie of the day a hole later from the edge of the green to again cut the lead to a single shot.
Yang responded with just a second birdie at the 14th after sending an eagle putt from the edge of the green six feet past having again opted to go for the par five in two.
The Korean again escaped the sand at the front of the 15th green in superb style for another par before Donaldson pushed an eight-foot birdie chance just right with three to play.
But with Donaldson missing the green at the par-three 17th and failing to make the up and down, Yang was handed a three-shot cushion with just two holes to play and the lead allowed the Korean to smile as a 10-foot birdie putt from the edge of the penultimate green lipped out.
Yang found sand off the final tee and was forced to lay up but, after overshooting the 18th green, comfortably completed the two-putt bogey for a deserved 10th career title and third on the European Tour, after landing the HSBC Champions in nearby Shanghai at the end of 2006.
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