With just three places on offer for this year’s 20th staging of the Volvo China Open, the first two-day Genzon Qualifier ended up with a trio of very excited golfers looking forward to joining Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Jason Dufner in the 156-man field in just over two months.
Jin Da-xing shot a bogey-free second round of 68 to win the first of the four Volvo China Open qualifying events of 2014 at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen today. Jin’s flawless round saw him finish five shots clear of his nearest challengers, Cao Yi and amateur golfer Chen Zi-hao. All three will now be very much looking forward to playing with the stars of The European Tour in China’s National Open, held on the same course from April 24-27.
Jilin province-based Jin, 21, was not troubled by the cold and damp conditions as he clinically made his way around the testing Genzon course in matching nines of 34 strokes.
“I didn’t give myself too much pressure today,” said Jin. “I simply focussed on hitting fairways and greens. I made only one real error, and that was a pulled drive on the 14th hole, but I managed to play a good recovery shot to the front of the green and chipped the ball stone dead for par.”
Overnight leader Cao looked as though he had one of the three qualifying spots solidly locked up until an uncharacteristic double-bogey six at the long 15th was followed by a bogey five at the last for a round of 74. “I tried to make the par putt on 18 but thought that if I missed it I would at least make a play off,” said 23 year old Cao, who hails from Beijing but completed his high school education in Vancouver, Canada.
“I’m really happy to have qualified as I played in last year’s northern China qualifier and narrowly missed out.”
Zhuhai-based Chen saw his name at the top of the leaderboard halfway through the final round after firing four birdies in eight holes. Bogeys on holes 12 and 14 were followed by an ugly double-bogey on the 15th which saw the 17 year-old slip back into the pack.
“When I made double-bogey on the 15th I began to wonder whether I had let my chance slip,” said Chen.
“However, I re-focussed well on the par-five 17th and made a birdie there, which ultimately was the difference between qualifying and failing. I played really well on the front nine so to be honest I’m disappointed I didn’t win the tournament,” added Chen, who will this year begin a university degree in Oregon.
Ye Wo-cheng, who made history in the Volvo China Open last year when he became the youngest ever competitor on The European Tour, missed out on qualification after posting a round of 79.
There are three more qualifying tournaments still to be played – at Sanya Luhuitou, Wolong Valley and Nanshan – each of which will attract large numbers of golfers keen to earn one of just three places on offer in this year’s Volvo China Open.
The 20th Volvo China Open takes place from April 24-27 at the Genzon Golf Club, Shenzhen, Southern China. This will be Volvo’s 82nd tournament on The European Tour.
The prize fund of RMB 20 million includes a winner’s cheque of RMB 3.3 million. Volvo is organising the event together with the China Golf Association and it is co-sanctioned by The European Tour and OneAsia.