Li dominates Hainan Open, takes over No. 1 spot on Order of Merit
November 23, 2014
By PGA TOUR China staff, PGATOUR.COM
- November 23, 2014
- Li Hao Tong's six-shot victory all but locks up the PGA TOUR China money list title.
SANYA, China -- In the end, the Hainan Open came down to a battle for second. So dominant was champion Li Hao Tong that the only intrigue was who would finish just below Li on the leaderboard, the distinction going to Brett Drewitt and Dohyun Kim. The story all day at Luhuitou Golf Club was Li, who won the Hainan Open by six shots.
He also moved into the top spot on the Order of Merit with one tournament to play, and he joined David McKenzie as the only two-time winner on the Tour this season. Li has won his two PGA TOUR China titles by a combined 14 strokes, capturing the Jianye Tianzhu Henan Open in September by eight shots.
It was a nice week’s work for the 19-year-old, who won’t even say goodbye to his teens until next August. In a couple of months, though, he will be saying hello to the Web.com Tour. His finish Sunday at Luhuitou Golf Club assured him of 2015 Web.com Tour membership. With Xin Jun Zhang, formerly No. 1 on the Order of Merit, not playing this week or in the final event, only Sam Chien and Drewitt can mathematically catch Li on the earnings’ chart. Li has made ￥751,788. Drewitt is at ￥580,264 and Chien has pocketed ￥557,751. To have any chance at passing Li, either would have to win next week’s season-ending Tour Championship presented by CTS Tycoon and hope Li finishes approximately 40th or worse.
That’s easy to say, and Li may have a few thoughts about that. He will go into the Shenzhen tournament as the prohibitive favorite based on his play over the last two months and his take-no-prisoners routs in his two victories.
“I’ve made it much easier on myself for the next tournament,” said Li of his Order of Merit position. “I have a really good advantage.
“I’m satisfied with how I played today. It’s great to come up with this result,” Li understated. “All week, I’ve been leaving my room not feeling very good. Today, I felt very good.”
His healthy lead over Drewitt to start the final round may have had something to do with that. Li had a relatively clean scorecard making only one bogey through 17 holes. His streak of bogey-free holes that began on the second hole of his second round ended at 48 when he bogeyed the par-3 14th hole. Standing on the 18th-hole tee with an eight-stroke lead, Li made a mess of things, with a double bogey-7 on the par-5. But it hardly mattered, his final-round 70 more than good enough. “I got too comfortable on the last hole, and I hit two shots fat,” he explained.
“No one was going to catch him today. He’s awesome right now,” said Ray Beaufils of Li. “He’s one of the hottest players on the planet. He’s really impressive to watch and an even better guy to play with. You won’t find a nicer guy than Hao Tong.”
Beaufils was right, although he did start hot, closing to within five shots after he made his fourth consecutive birdie to begin his day. At that point, Li’s lead was five.
“Ray played those first four holes great. But he was still quite far behind. I focused on myself and tried not to let the other players affect me,” Li added. Li birdied the sixth and seventh holes, ending everybody’s hopes, although Li said it was his birdie on the par-3 12th that, at least in his mind, cemented the win. Drewitt, playing with Li for a fifth consecutive round (they also played together in the final round of last week’s Nine Dragons Open) had a 2-under 70 when he needed something in the low 60s. And on a windy, warm day at Luhuitou, that wasn’t going to happen.
China’s Mu Hu matched his best finish of the season with his tie for fifth. He was fifth earlier in the season at the Earls Beijing Open. Hu also enjoyed his second top-10 finish in a row, tying for ninth at last week’s Nine Dragons Open.
Of the 10 players who held the outright, 54-hole lead this season, eight have gone on to win -- with Hao Tong Li the latest. The only players who led through three rounds and didn’t go on to win were Mathew Perry at the Earls Beijing Open and Jae Ho Kim last week at the Nine Dragons Open.
Dohyun Kim, who made PGA TOUR China history in the first round when he recorded the circuit’s first double eagle, had the round of the day Sunday, shooting a 5-under 67 to tie for second. Kim’s game has rounded into form over the last half of the season. He’s made six consecutive cuts and has top-fives in two of his last three starts. He tied for fourth at the Jianye Tianzhu Henan Open.
Monday qualifier Sean Yu had a strong weekend in picking up his first PGA TOUR top-10 in his first start. After opening 75-76 but still making the cut, the native of Taiwan shot consecutive 69s on the weekend to tie for fifth. By finishing inside the top 20, Yu earned an invite to the final tournament of the season.
Australian Ryan McCarthy picked up his second top-10 of the season when he tied for fifth. He tied for eighth at the season-opening Mission Hills Haikou Open.
Cheng Jin, winner of last week’s Nine Dragons Open, was the low amateur this week, the fifth time he’s earned that distinction this season. Jin’s tie for ninth at the Hainan Open is the fifth time this year -- and third consecutive time -- an amateur has recorded a top-10 in 2015. In his last five starts, Jin’s worst finish is a tie for 17th, at the Chateau Junding Penglai Open.