Korean Baek comes from behind to win Haikou Championship
May 13, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- May 13, 2018
- (PGA TOUR Series-China/Zhuang Liu)
HAIKOU, China—Korean Todd Baek won his second PGA TOUR Series-China title with a come-from-behind victory at the weather-affected Haikou Championship, which was reduced to 54 holes.
Baek started the third and final round at Sunac Haikou 3KM Golf two shots behind American Charlie Saxon and shot a closing 5-under 67 for a 10-under total of 206, two ahead of three-time winner Saxon (71) and Canada’s Justin Shin (67), also a former winner on the Tour.
Baek, 26, shot an opening 65 to lead after a weather-delayed first round finished Friday. He then immediately played his second round, with a 74, putting him in the second-to-last group Sunday.
Baek, who played collegiately at San Diego State and has also competed on the Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica, started well, with birdies on Nos. 1, 3 and 7 offset by a bogey on the second. Shin was even hotter on the front nine, with five birdies, but couldn't pick up any more shots on the back, where he racked up nine consecutive pars.
Saxon, though, remained in the lead after the front nine, where three birdies put him 10-under. Bogeys on Nos. 13 and 17 on the way home proved his undoing.
Baek carried his form into the second nine, bagging further birdies on Nos. 10, 13 and the par-5 18th to set a target no one could match, with Saxon only able to secure a par on the last when he needed an eagle to force a playoff.
For Baek, it was a welcome return to winning ways, having won the Chateau Junding Penglai Open in Yantai in the Tour’s inaugural season in 2014 and finished fifth on the Order of Merit to earn status on the Web.com Tour, where he played full seasons in 2015 and 2016
“I feel great. I played well all week,” said Baek. “It feels great as it’s been a while since my last win, which was on this Tour in 2014. I’m looking forward to playing the rest of the year here.”
After only playing one hole Thursday, when play was stopped in the early afternoon, Baek played almost two rounds in the tropical heat Friday and didn’t play at all Saturday.
“I played 35 holes on Friday which was very tough in this heat, got up to almost 40, 41 degrees, so I drank a lot of water, and tried to stay as cool as possible. It was very hard, but everyone had the same conditions.”
Saxon, 25, was disappointed not to take advantage of a two-shot lead going into the back nine but admitted he was delighted with form that has now propelled him to the top of the Order of Merit.
“I didn’t quite do what I needed to do on the back nine, and Todd played really well. He capitalized on me not going further under par and congrats to him; he was the better man today,” said Saxon, who finished second on the 2016 Order of Merit and played on last year’s Web.com Tour.
“It’s great being in contention. That’s what we play for, that’s what we practice for, although it sucks not being able to finish the deal. I was coming in wanting to win but can’t win them all, so I’ll learn from it, learn what I can do better the next time I’m in contention, and I’ll end up winning.”
Shin, 26, is another former winner on Tour, capturing the United Investment Real Estate Wuhan Open in 2015. The Canadian believes the result in Haikou is a turning point for him as he bids to return to the Web.com Tour, where he had full status in 2017.
“I’m finally playing better now after struggling the last year, so it’s great to be in the top five this week. It’s a good start for me for this year, so we’ll see how it goes for the next few events,” said Shin. “I’m looking forward to it, and I hope to have more events like this. Hopefully I can get a win this year – that’s my goal. My last win was in 2015, so I’m looking forward to having another win.”