Aphibarnrat steals victory in Shenzen
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat produced a late surge to win his second ever European Tour event at the Shenzhen Open in China on Sunday.
Aphibarnrat held at two-shot lead at the start of the final day’s play, after carding scores of 67, 69 and 68 in the first three rounds.
Bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes saw his lead evaporate fairly quickly but the 25-year-old recovered with birdies on the ninth and tenth, before two more bogeys saw him head into the last three at two over.
Aphibarnrat managed to par the 16th, then gave himself the opportunity to win with a 17-foot putt to eagle the 17th hole.
He looked set to win the tournament when an excellent approach shot set him up with a standard putt for another birdie on 18, but the Thai sent his shot wide and was forced to settle for par.
The even-par 74 in round four took Aphibarnrat to 12-under and level with Chinese teenager Li Hao-Tong.
Hao-Tong birdied the 18th on the first hole of the play-off, but his opponent went one better and birdied to win the title.
“Special thanks to my caddie, he was always pushing me,” Aphibarnrat told the European Tour website after the win.
“When we were two behind on the last two holes he said you have not lost, we have not signed the scorecard yet and he was completely right and I just got the job done.
“I had a chance to win in 72 holes but the putt in the play-off is the best putt I have ever made in my life.”
Hao-Tong, who missed out on becoming the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil, may feel slightly hard-done-by.
The 19-year-old fired six birdies and a solitary bogey to card 67 and match two other players for the lowest round on the final day.
Trailing him on 11-under is England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who shot five birdies and a bogey to card a 69 in round four – and remain among the sports betting favourites.
Seven players, including England’s David Howell and Tom Lewis, shared fourth place on the leaderboard on 10-under.
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