Macpherson Jumps into the Top of Order of Merit
By Laury Livsey
SANYA, China—Bryden Macpherson had just signed his scorecard after his final round, and as he checked the scoreboard to see where he stood, for a brief moment he thought he might have a chance at winning the Hainan Open. The Australian had just birdied his 72nd hole, rolling in nifty 10-footer to move to even-par on the very windy Dragon Valley Golf Club. In the end, Macpherson left well before the tournament ended once he found the Huilin Zhang had posted a 2-under 286, leaving Macpherson two shots behind.
As a consolation, the tie-for-third finish earned Macpherson ￥69,600, and that was enough to send the former Georgia Bulldog to the top of the Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series’ Order of Merit for the first time all year. He supplanted New Zealand’s Josh Geary, who skipped the Hainan Open in favor of the PGA Tour of Australasia’s Emirates Australian Open.
Macpherson leads Geary by ￥16,750, with only the Capital Airline – HNA Real Estate Championship left on the schedule. The next-closest pursuer is China’s Xinjun Zhang. He trails Geary by ￥ 254,984. With ￥216,000 available to the winner of the season-ending tournament, only Macpherson and Geary can win the money title. So they both know they’ll have their 2016 cards. The difference is the Order of Merit winner will be fully exempt all season and able to play in any event he chooses. The guys who finish Nos. 2 through 5 don’t have that same luxury.
Macpherson knows what it means to be able to set your schedule and not have to wonder if he can get into tournaments or not.
So with a gap wedge in his hand, Macpherson hit his approach into the 18th green Sunday. He was still holding out hope a birdie that would have moved him to even-par was perhaps enough to force a playoff.
“That second shot was the perfect club for me. I said to myself, If you can post even (-par), you never know,” Macpherson related. “So I’m thinking, Let’s hit the best putt of the entire week to post even, and I think I probably did.”
While the putt didn’t lead to his third victory of the campaign, the even-par finish earned Macpherson enough money to pass Geary.
For Zecheng Dou, it was the opposite. He was trying to win the tournament by chipping in on No 18 to earn a spot in a playoff for a second consecutive week. But because Dou ran his 18th-hole chip significantly by and then missed his par putt, he dropped into a tie for third. He remains No. 6 on the Order of Merit—right where he began the week—but a tie for second at the Hainan Open would have meant an additional￥36,000 in his pocket. With one tournament remaining, Dou remains ￥31,377 behind No. 5 Justin Shin.
Even though Dou could have played it safe and had a better chance at making par, Dou had no regrets following his round. Instead of thinking about money, his only thought was on playing his way into overtime.
“I’m just trying to win. I was thinking of chipping in to get into a playoff. If I don’t make it, it doesn’t really matter. Where I was with the money wasn’t on my mind,” Dou said.
Earlier in the week, and already signed up for the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, Dou gave consideration to skipping the Capital Airline – HNA Real Estate Championship in Dongguan to travel to Florida to prepare for the Qualifying Tournament. But after assessing where he is on the Order of Merit and what he might be able to do next week and the money he can possibly earn, Dou will play, hoping that one more high finish will give him the Web.com Tour card he covets.
For Huilin Zhang, winner of the Hainan Open, playing on the Web.com Tour seemed a long way away just two weeks ago. But having moved to No. 7 on the Order of Merit following his first professional win, one more strong finish next week and he could find himself on a new Tour in 2016.
While Zhang has a very reasonable chance to jump into the top five, he is one of 16 players who can still mathematically make enough money next week and be part of the second class from the Ping An Bank China Tour – PGA TOUR China Series to graduate to the Web.com Tour.
(Image by Shu Wang)