History was made at the Foshan Open as Bai Zheng-kai became the first Chinese player to win on the European Challenge Tour as a six under par back nine secured victory at Foshan Golf Club.
Photo credit: Richard Castka/sportpixgolf.com
Bai signed for a seven under par 65 on the final day to reach 23 under par for the tournament, four strokes clear of Dou Zecheng who finished second on 19 under par, while Scotland’s Calum Hill finished with five successive birdies to finish third on 18 under par and return to the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings.
However, the day belonged to 22-year-old Bai, who showed maturity beyond his years as he put Foshan Golf Club to the sword over the final nine holes and made Challenge Tour history in the process.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “Becoming the first Chinese player to win the Foshan Open is unbelievable. I’ve had a great week and I’m very happy.
“All the Europeans are good players and it just feels amazing to win this tournament. I’m honoured to become the first Chinese player to win on the Challenge Tour.”
Bai, also known as Bobby, set a new course record in the second round when he posted a bogey-free 63 and he drew on that experience as he came down the stretch with victory in his sights.
“I looked at the leaderboard around the turn and felt like I needed a few more birdies,” he said.
“My ball striking was good, my putting kept me going along the last couple of holes and I made a lot of birdies.
“I also played pretty well when I shot 63 on Friday. I made a lot of putts and my ball striking was really good. Everything fell into place that day.”
One shot behind Hill in a tie for fourth place was England’s Richard Bland and Germany’s Alexander Knappe on 17 under par, while Adrian Meronk, Benjamin Poke and Ben Stow shared sixth place on 16 under.
Christofer Blomstrand, Matthew Jordan and overnight leader Ricardo Santos, who posted a one over par round of 73 on day four, complete the top ten in a share for ninth place on 15 under par.
As Bai is not a member of the European Challenge Tour, he will not receive the Road to Mallorca Rankings points allocated for the winner of the Foshan Open and is ineligible to play in the Challenge Tour Grand Final next month. He will now travel to Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions next week.
One man who will play at Club de Golf Alcanada next month is Hill, who finished solo third to replace Hainan Open Champion Francesco Laporta at the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings, while Bland’s tie for fourth spot moves him to third place in the Rankings.
Knappe, who played on an invite this week, climbed 43 places to 46th position on the Road to Mallorca and just misses out on a spot in the Challenge Tour Grand Final, however he did secure full playing privileges for next year.
There is now a week’s break on the Road to Mallorca International Schedule as the top 45 players prepare for the final event of the season in Mallorca, where the leading 15 players will earn full European Tour cards for next season.