Sunday, 19 October 2014
Johan Edfors - Shankai Classic presented by IDG Champion, 2014 ()
Johan Edfors - Shankai Classic presented by IDG Champion, 2014 ()

 

Johan Edfors streaked clear of the chasing pack on the final day at the Shankai Classic presented by IDG as a four birdie finish saw him claim a three stroke victory over Michael Lorenzo-Vera at Chongqing Poly Golf Club.

The Swede’s emphatic finish to post 15 under par put paid to the chasing Frenchman’s aspirations of a first title since 2007, while a shot further adrift was the trio of Bernd Ritthammer, Tim Sluiter and the leading Chinese player – Hu Mu.

Having not tasted victory since a European Tour triple in 2006 – the first of which came at the TCL Classic in China – Edfors proved his class on Sunday to card a blemish free round of 66 and climb inside the top 15 on the European Challenge Tour Rankings, having entered the week in 59th place.

At 13th on the season-long list with just three events remaining, the 39 year old is now in position to return to The Race to Dubai having lost his card last year, thanks to a triumph that came in emotional circumstances.

Earlier in the season Edfors took a six month break from the game after a prolonged period of injury and was uncertain if he would continue his career. However, a talk he had with his father shortly before he passed away inspired him to rededicate his efforts, and his win in Chongqing is proof the Swede is now back to somewhere near his best.

“To be honest, I don't think I have ever been as nervous as I was today, especially at the beginning of the front nine,” said the 2003 Challenge Tour Number One. “It's a lot easier to win on The European Tour than out here as there's so much at stake, and a win here almost gets you straight back on The European Tour, so I had to do something special out there on the back nine.

“I took the decision in late July to play Challenge Tour for the rest of the year, because I hadn't performed well on my European Tour invites, and it was tough to plan anything (without a full card). It was really tough for my family because I wasn't able to make any plans, so I decided in the summer to focus on the Challenge Tour and it looks like it has paid off.

“It’s been a tough couple of years for me, but I've been able to pick my game up and it feels fantastic. I was really close to quitting after last year, as I didn’t enjoy myself at all and was having to play through injury, so it is a very emotional win this week.

“Before my dad passed away earlier this year I promised him I'd make it back, and now I am back.”

After his second place finish in Chongqing, Lorenzo-Vera is now guaranteed of a return to The Race to Dubai for the first time since 2009, and he was delighted with how he played in the final round.

Eight birdies, including three to finish, countered a single dropped shot and added up to a 65 on Sunday, a result which matches his best of the season in Azerbaijan, and sends him to sixth in the Rankings.

In typically nonchalant fashion, the Frenchman said: “What can I say, huh? I hit some really good shots all day long, holed a few putts on the front nine, and then after that I was just hitting it straight at the flag so I had plenty of opportunities, and it turned out pretty well.

“At the end I felt comfortable on almost every shot, and I just went for it, and it worked out. I was watching the leaderboard all day, and I knew that I was nine under with three to play so I wanted to see what I could do before the finish, and I did pretty well!

“I hit only pure shots from the 13th, I couldn’t do any better, and all I wanted to do this week was earn enough money to confirm my card for next year. I didn’t want to take any risks, kept the ball in play and I hit pure shots, so it worked.”

There was plenty for the supportive home galleries to get behind on Sunday too, as Hu bounced back from an opening triple bogey with six birdies in a row from the 11th, a run that at one point had him tied for the lead.

He would come up just short though as Edfors pulled clear, but the Chinese player carded a 67 in the end to match the score of those he finished alongside in third – Ritthammer and Sluiter.

They finished a shot clear of a quartet in a tie for sixth at ten under par, namely Björn Åkesson (68), Matteo Delpodio (69), Daniel Gaunt (67) and Mark Tullo (71), who all gained valuable Ranking points.

Pontus Widegren (68) rounded out the top ten alongside the French pair of Edouard Espana (67) and Cyril Bouniol (69), while overnight leader Antonio Hortal carded a two over par 74 to fall back into a tie for 13th alongside Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren (66).

Former US Amateur Champion Matthew Fitzpatrick had been going great guns on the final day thanks to four birdies in his first ten holes, but the Sheffield native dropped shots at the 16th and 18th, which saw him fall back into a tie for 23rd place.

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