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    • Zhang rallies to win Earls Beijing Open

    • Xin Jun Zhang became the first China-born player to win a PGA TOUR China Series event. Xin Jun Zhang became the first China-born player to win a PGA TOUR China Series event.

    EARLS BEIJING OPEN: Final leaderboard

    BEIJING, China -- On the 17th hole during the final round of the Earls Beijing Open, China’s Xin Jun Zhang went from chasing to the guy everybody was trying to catch. Zhang made a birdie on the second-to-last hole, while leader Mathew Perry made a triple bogey, and that four-shot swing gave Zhang the title over Perry and helped Zhang make PGA TOUR China Series history. Zhang’s win was the first by a China-born player.

    Through 15 holes, Zhang had remained right behind Perry, by a stroke, as the two players both birdied No. 15. After a pair of pars by Zhang and Perry on No. 16, Perry purposely didn’t hit driver off the 17th tee. His strategy was that he wanted to be the first hitting his approach from the fairway into the par-4 to “put pressure on my opponents.” But Perry pushed his drive right, and when he couldn’t locate his ball in the deep rough, he had to return to the tee to hit his third shot.

    “It was unfortunate,” Perry said of his lost ball. “But I wouldn’t change the decision, and this result is going to give me a lot of motivation to come back and win.”

    Zhang, who had a slow start, bogeying No. 1, played his final 17 holes in 6-under. “I was very patient. I knew I had a chance, so I just waited and tried to be patient,” Zhang said. “Lucas (Lee) and Mathew gave me some pressure, but I just focused on every shot.

    After Perry determined his ball was lost, Zhang was the one who put on the pressure when he hit his approach shot to three feet and made the birdie putt, all but sealing the victory after Perry’s stumble.

    “Finally, I did it,” Zhang celebrated, noting he turned 27 earlier this week. “This championship is the best birthday gift for me.”

    After that first-hole bogey, Zhang birdied the second and eighth holes to turn in 1-under. He was in third place at 15-under at the time, four strokes behind Lee and three shy of Perry with nine holes to play. Birdies at the 10th and 11th holes allowed him to pass Lee, who bogeyed both holes, and as Perry and Zhang stepped to the 12th tee, only a shot separated them.

    Lee had every bit the look of a champion Sunday, shooting a front-nine 32 that gave him the lead at 19-under with nine holes to play. Overnight leader leader Perry admitted it was Lee, not Zhang, who caused him the most concern as the round progressed. Then Lee bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes, knocking his second-shot approach into the par-5 11th into the water. The round spiraled downhill from there, with the Brazilian making no birdies the rest of the way and finishing with bogeys on two of his last three holes.

    “I was just too aggressive with my second shot on No. 11. I just have to take my time next time and think more clearly, maybe not be so aggressive,” Lee said. “Zhang put the pressure on. He’s a good player, and he was making a lot of birdies. I just made mistakes.”

    Runner-up Perry, who had been steady all week, shooting three consecutive under-par rounds to start the tournament and playing bogey-free, 2-under golf through 16 holes in the final round, watched the victory slip away on his second-to-last hole. His triple bogey was one of only two at No. 17 all week, and he leaves Beijing philosophical despite his career-best Series’ finish and second consecutive top-10.

    “I’m very proud of how I played all week. I stuck to the processes all day. Obviously, I’m disappointed about the result, but it’s something I can move on from and I’m sure I’ll be a better player for it,” Perry noted.

    Not related but deadlocked on the leaderboard and tied for third with Lee was Seongki Lee. The tie for third was Seongki Lee’s first top-10 on the circuit after five starts.

    Final-Round Notes

    -- For the second consecutive day, there was a hole-in-one, this time by Thailand’s Arnond Vongvanij. He aced the par-3 16th hole. He sandwiched his ace around birdies on Nos. 15 and 17. Vongvanij moved up from a tie for 18th when the day began to a tie for 15th in his PGA TOUR China Series debut. In the third round, Kuan Po Lin aced the fourth hole. Skyler Hong and Fang Yi Li have the other holes-in-one this season.

    -- Mu Hu played bogey-free golf for the second consecutive day and ended the tournament having played 42 consecutive holes without a bogey. Hu’s last bogey came in the second round, on No. 15. His 66-66 final two rounds were the best on the weekend, and his fifth-place finish in Beijing is easily his career-best PGA TOUR China Series finish, bettering his tie for 26th at the Mission Hills Haikou Open.

    -- Two players earned their first top-10s on the PGA TOUR China Series. China’s Mu Hu was the only other China-born player besides winner Xin Jun Zhang to finish in the top 10, while Australian Ryan Haller earned his first top-10 with his tie for seventh, one of three Aussies in the top 10 (runner-up Mathew Perry and Scott Barr, tied for seventh, the others).

    -- China’s Ze Cheng Dou earned low-amateur honors for the fourth time in as many starts, with his tie for 19th. The other amateurs to make the cut this week were Yan Wei Liu and Zi Hao Chen (tied for 68th).

    -- A day after there were a record 10 bogey-free rounds, only two players didn’t have bogeys on their scorecards Sunday. They came from Mu Hu—for the second consecutive day—and Hoon Heui Lee. The 24 bogey-free rounds, also a PGA TOUR China Series tournament record, came from 20 players. Mu Hu (third and fourth rounds), Lucas Lee (second and third rounds), Seongki Lee (first and second rounds) and Mathew Perry (first and third rounds) turned in two bogey-free scorecards. .

    Bogey-free rounds (24)
    First Round (6): Todd Baek, Scott Barr, Da Xing Jin, Seongki Lee, Mathew Perry, Xin
    Jun Zhang
    Second Round (6): Do Eun An, Mark Brown, Gunn Charoenkul, Lucas Lee, Ryan
    McCarthy, Seongki Lee
    Third Round (10): Mu Hu, Chien Yao Hung, Martin Kim, Lucas Lee, Nathan
    Leonhardt, Jia Yu Lv, Ted Oh, Mathew Perry, Adam Stephens, Arnond Vongvanij
    Fourth Round (2): Mu Hu, Hoon Heui Lee  

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