The 34 year old posted five birdies against a lone bogey on the par-three sixth hole to claim the top prize by an impressive three shots from Taiwan’s Lee Chieh-po.
The pair were drawn together for the final round over the 6,999-yard Jack Nicklaus Jr-designed Palm Island layout, and sparred like a pair of prize fighters over the challenging 18 holes.
Whenever pressured the Venezuelan player seemed to find extra something special to keep his nose in front, and a birdie two on the final hole saw him take a two-shot lead down the last.
“I played better today than yesterday. My driver was much better today even though I missed a couple of fairways, but that’s golf. I’ve worked very hard in practice over the past year and today is my reward for the effort I’ve put in. I’ve been working with a couple of coaches in Thailand, where I live, and they have helped me a great deal, so today is very much the result of a team effort. I’ve actually been preparing for this event for the past year because my goal is to play on the European Tour, so I’m on the right track.”Lee, 21, said he played much better today than yesterday and was delighted to have pulled through to qualify. Although still a young player, he has already had a top five finish on the Asian Tour.
Kim seemed to be out of luck when standing on the 18th tee at three under par, while his playing partners were one and two shots ahead of him respectively. A perfect drive set up a wedge shot from 120 yards, which he holed for an eagle two to secure his place in the play-off.
“I was very lucky on the 18th – you don’t expect to make eagles on par fours,” said Kim, who had his father acting as caddie.
“I was actually feeling quite tired after we finished 18 holes but I needed to keep going to compete in the play off. My dad was cheering me on throughout the round and giving me encouragement, so I was lucky to have him with me.”
Lien was eliminated after a bogey on the first extra hole and then, returning to the 18th, Kim hit another perfect wedge shot to four feet of the flag and holed the putt for a birdie and qualification.
Wang Wei-husan won the leading amateur prize after a six-birdie round of 69 today. The 16 year old from Taiwan started the event with a nine on his opening hole, so to finish tied sixth overall was some achievement.
In less than three weeks, the third of this year’s qualifying tournaments will take place at one of last year’s most popular host clubs, the Shanghai Tianma Club.
The 22nd staging of the Volvo China Open takes place from April 28-May 1 at Topwin Golf and Country Club, in Beijing.
Volvo was the first western brand to engage with golf in China in 1995, and this will be Volvo’s 85th tournament on The European Tour.
The prize fund is RMB 20 million. The tournament is organised by the China Golf Association with Volvo as co-organiser and promoter, and is co-sanctioned by The European Tour and OneAsia.