PGA TOUR China Q-School: Rd. 4 wrap
March 21, 2014
By Laury Livsey, PGATOUR.COM
- Australia's Alex Hawley was medalist at the PGA TOUR China Series' second Q-School.
HAIKOU, China -- With five holes to play at the second qualifying tournament for the PGA TOUR China Series, Australian Alex Hawley held a one-stroke lead over Ray Beaufils, who had finished his round and was in the clubhouse. Knowing he had locked up his 2014 playing card, it was now time for Hawley to win the tournament, and he did just that, birdieing Nos. 5 and 6, his 14th and 15th holes of the day. He coasted from there, punctuating his round with a birdie on his 72nd hole to take a four-shot victory over Beaufils and earn medalist honors. He joins David Lutterus in the Australian Q-School sweep. Lutterus won the PGA TOUR China Series’ first Q-School a week earlier in Shenzhen.
“I had no idea,” Hawley said when asked if he knew his position on the leaderboard coming down the stretch. “I was just trying to get the ball in the hole.”
Hawley also admitted he played his final three holes very quickly, knowing available sunlight was quickly disappearing. “I just didn’t want to have to come back Saturday and finish,” he laughed.
Earlier this season, on the PGA Tour of Australasia, Hawley entered the final round of the Heritage Classic three shots off the lead. A final-round 82 ruined his chances as he dropped into a tie for 15th. There would not be a similar stumble Friday, his 2-under 70 his fourth consecutive round at par or better.
“It’s massive for my confidence,” he said, discussing his week and the victory. Hawley opened the tournament at Mission Hills Golf Club’s Sandbelt Trails Course with an even-par 72 and then slowly pulled away from there. Overall he had 20 birdies and 11 bogeys, avoiding any big blowups—especially in the final round when cold weather overtook the previous warm, humid first three days.
He said, “I wanted to show myself that for my first time in China I could come up here and play well and feel comfortable playing on these sorts of courses. So, yeah, it’s very satisfying.”
Hawley also admitted relief knowing he has a Tour to call home for all of 2014 after an injured back sidelined him a year ago, leaving him with no status on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Midway through his round, Beaufils still entertained thoughts of a title but watched his chance at winning the tournament evaporate late in his round Friday. He was cruising along at 2-under for the day when he arrived at the par-3 16th. He couldn’t locate his ball off the tee then took an unplayable lie on his next shot, a sequence that led to a quadruple bogey-7. “Seven was about the best score I could have made,” Beaufils admitted. After a par at No. 17, he came back with a birdie on his final hole to finish at 1-over for the day, firmly in second place.
Friday morning, Beaufils awoke with pain in his neck that was diagnosed as a pinched nerve.
“It was very tough today. I was in a fair bit of pain,” Beaufils explained. “I just hung in there and am very happy with my finish. It was a solid week. My goal was to finish in the top 20, and I finished in the top 20. So I’m very happy.”
In all, 20 players qualified for the PGA TOUR China Series from this tournament, with the official season beginning April 17, the first event also set for Mission Hils. Four players, Andrew Kelly, Shih Chang Chan, Kook Hyan Kim and Nicholas Gillespie tied for 17th, securing the final four cards offered. On the outside looking in, tied for 21st and a stroke back, were Chris Campbell and Michael Choi. They will have partial exemptions this season.
Notes: In the final round, the par 3s, the par 4s and the par 5s all played more difficult than they had a day earlier, with players recording an average of 5.19 on the Sandbelt Trails Course’s four par-5s. Here is how the holes have played this week:
1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round
Par 3s: 3.30 3.41 3.29 3.30
Par 4s: 4.25 4.30 4.10 4.17
Par 5s: 4.96 4.98 4.93 5.19
The par-5 eighth hole played as the easiest for the first three days of the tournament, however in the final round the par-4 third took that honor, with a 3.68 stroke average. On the short, downwind hole, three players made eagle, and there were only 11 bogeys and one double bogey there in the final round. ... Only four holes had below-par scoring averages Friday (Nos. 3, 5, 7 and 8). ... The day’s best round belong to Todd Baek, a former San Diego State golfer. He began his final round safely inside the top 20 (tied for eighth). He shot a final-round, 3-under 69 -- including bogeys on his first and last holes of the day. He finished solo third, five shots behind winner Alex Hawley. ... The 20 qualifiers are from three countries, with Australia (nine) leading the way. South Korea had eight qualifiers, while Taiwan had three. ... Playing in the same group, Scott Barr and Brett Drewitt both made eagle at the par-4 third hole. Moments after Barr made his eagle putt, Drewitt canned a 20-foot eagle of his own on a hole that was playing immediately downwind. South Africa’s Mathian Keyser also made an eagle-2 there Friday. ... In all, 111 players finished the tournament from the 124 who began the four-day tournament.