Flawless Cho seals second victory at the White Mountain Wanda Open
Jilin, Baishan, July 2: Korean hotshot Rak hyun Cho marked his best efforts of the week with a closing seven-under-par 65 to claim a three-shot victory for his second China Tour title in one month at the White Mountain Wanda Open on Sunday.
The 24-year-old Korean, who won the season opener two weeks ago and came in second after losing in a play-off last week, returned with a bogey-free round highlighted by seven birdies for a wining total of 16-under-par 272 at the scenic Jilin White Birch Club.
Overnight leader Daxing Jin opened with a triple-bogey on the first but fought back with three birdies against three bogeys to sign for a 72, sharing second place with Michael Skelton of Canada, who carded a 69m, at the￥1.35 million event, which is the third stop on the China Tour this season.
Australian Maverick Antcliff finished six shots back in fourth place on his own following a 67 highlighted by two eagles while countrymen Deyen Lawson and Matthew Perry, also of Australia, signed for identical 69s to take fifth place on 279.
Cho, who started the day four shots back, got off to a flying start where he nailed five birdies, including three consecutive ones from the third hole to turn in 31. He added two more birdies on his way home to seal the deal.
“I got off to a really good start. I found myself in the lead after the sixth hole so I just try to stick to my game and play shot by shot. I lost out on the win on the 18th hole last week so I didn’t want to make the same mistake this week. I tried to stay calm and stick to my routine. I am happy I didn’t make any mistakes today,” said Cho, who turned professional in 2014.
“After last week, I learned to not go into play-off. I knew I was only one ahead after the 10th or 11th hole and I knew I needed to make more birdies coming down to the 18th. I managed to do that and didn’t have any pressure playing the last.
“The most important hole for me today was the ninth. I was thinking if I should go for it or play safe. But some thoughts I decided to go for it since I’m in the lead. It was a tough second shot. I had to cut it with a three wood. If I don’t cut it enough, it will go to the left and if I cut if too much, it will go into the trees. I did it just nice and made birdie there,” Cho added.
Cho was thrilled to tighten his lead on the Order of Merit with another victory. The Order of Merit champion at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the European Tour in 2018.
“I will be coming back to China for the event in Kunming. I want to try and play as many events as I can on the China Tour this season as my goal is to win the Order of Merit and earn my European Tour card next year,” explained Cho.
Jin, who held the lead in the second and third round, blew his three-shot lead right on the first hole but kept his head high as he battled tooth and nail for a 72.
“I got off to a poor start but I tried not to let that affect my game. I tried my very best to recover from that. I had quite a few opportunities towards the end of the round but I wasn’t able to take advantage of that. I guess my strategy didn’t work out well. I had some misjudgments with my clubs as well,” said the 24-year-old Chinese.
Despite missing out on his third professional win, Jin tipped his hat to Cho for being a deserving winner.
“I hit it into the trees on the right on the first hole and it was unplayable. I managed to hit it out on my fourth and put it on the green with my fifth before I two-putted for double-bogey. The birdie on the fourth was a turning pointing for me. I sank a birdie putt there from seven to eight yards downhill. I gained some confidence from there. I didn’t give up out there.
“I think my mental game has improved a lot. If this has happened to me last time, I wouldn’t have been able to recover from my triple-bogey on the first. I think my game has matured a lot. Cho played very well. His tee shots are very good. He deserves the win,” added Jin.