Korean Cho seals wire-to-wire win at St.Andrews Henan Open


Beijing, June 11: Korea’s Rak Hyun Cho secured his first professional win after closing with a four-under-par 68 to complete an emphatic wire-to wire triumph at the St. Andrews Henan Open on Sunday.

Cho, who had held a share of the lead in the first three rounds, fired six birdies in his opening 10 holes against two dropped shots on his way home to claim a three-shot victory on 15-under-par 273 in total at the St. Andrews Golf Club’s Zhengzhou course.

Daejin Jeong of Korea returned with the day’s lowest score of 65 to share second place with countryman Daihan Lee and Bryden Macpherson of Australia, who ended their campaigns with rounds of 70 and 67 respectively at the St. Andrews Henan Open.

Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chieh-po battled to a 72 to settle four shots back in fifth place on his own while overnight co-leader Deyen Lawson of Australia came in a further shot back in sixth following a 73.

China’s Huang Wenyi matched the day’s best efforts after returning with a flawless round highlighted by seven birdies, including three opening birdies from the first hole. He finished tied-ninth on 281 in what is the China Tour’s season opening event.

Cho overcame a nervy finish to seal his breakthrough victory. “I got really nervous on the last few holes especially after the two bogeys on 15 and 17. I wasn’t checking the leaderboard actually but when I know I still had a three-shot lead heading into 18, I knew I was going to win.

“It feels really nice when I knew I won on the 18th hole. I finally won my first win as a professional,” said the 25-year-old Korean, who took home a winner’s prize purse of RMB243,000 (approximately US$35,751) thanks to his victory.

“I got off to a hot start. I think I made everything inside 15-feet. I didn’t hit it close but I made a lot of 10-footers today. I was hoping to get a win this year, if not I will not be playing golf anymore. It’s been my fourth year already so I am very happy that I finally did it this week.

“I came close a lot of times in the last three years. I played in the final group for about four to five times and came in second and third a few times. That gave me a lot of experiences and I learned a lot from that. I told myself to play my game shot by shot.

“My parents would be very proud that I finally won today. We would be very happy. I will celebrate with them when I go back to Korea,” added Cho, who started playing golf at the age of 12. His parents had sent him to Canada and the United States to hone his skills when he was younger.

Cho’s parents, however, stopped supporting him financially from last year. “I have to use my own money as they don’t support my finances anymore. I think that’s a good thing because that made me practice a lot harder. I guess that helps my game improve in a way and one of the reasons why I won today. My goal is to get better each year. Obviously I will aim to get that top spot to get into the European Tour next year. It will be a huge step-up in my career.”

Huang, who turned professional in 2011, held his head high after a worthy performance which marked his best efforts of the week. “I am very pleased with the way I played today. I stuck to my game plan and was able to hit it where I want. I made seven birdies today and a lot of birdies for the entire week. I am very happy. I was still adjusting to a lot of things in the first two days so I wasn’t as focused as I am in the last two rounds.

“I managed to stay focused today and my iron-play was solid. I was able to hit it to within one yard from the pin. I hope to remain consistent for the rest of the season. If I can continue to stay focused I should be able to keep playing well. My coach has been really supportive so I hope to play better and not to disappoint him,” said the 36-year-old Chinese.

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