Hsu makes it two for Taipei
Smiling Hsu Mong-nan became the second successive Chinese Taipei champion on the Omega China Tour after a composed two-under-par 70 in fierce winds gave him a two-stroke victory over Chen Xiaoma and Liao Guiming in the RMB800,000 Shanghai Championship.
Winning with a three-under total of 285, the 34-year-old Hsu kept his smooth swing while all around him lost theirs as howling winds blew across the Orient (Shanghai) Golf and Country Club soon after the final flights began the back nine.
Chen, who started the final day as co-leader on five-under, lost the lead after a double-bogey on 12 and came in with a 76, while his good friend Liao shot 73. Fan, the third player in the final flight, posted a 77 to finish fourth on even-par.
Yang Taoli, the first female pro to play on the Tour, shot 33 on the front nine but dropped six shots on the final four holes to close with a 75 and tie for 19th on eight-over.
Hsu, who has spent much of the past decade playing on the Asian Tour, said he was delighted to win in his fourth successive appearance on this year’s Omega China Tour, having finished joint runner-up in the season-opening Guangzhou Championship with compatriot Chan Yih-shin and fifth in the Dell Championship in Xiamen.
His victory follows Lu Wen-teh’s success in last month’s Kunming Championship, when the 45-year-old Asian Tour star became the Omega China Tour’s first non-mainland winner.
“I’m really happy to win because I’ve really enjoyed playing on the Omega China Tour this year and I’ve come close before. In fact, this morning Lu Wen-teh told me it was my turn to win, which now seems funny,” said Hsu, one of the event’s two invites from Chinese Taipei along with Lu, who finished joint-10th.
The smooth-swinging Hsu started the day four behind Chen and co-leader Fan Zhipeng and appeared out of contention after a bogey on seven. However, a run of four successive birdies from eight through 11 vaulted him up the leaderboard, with a missed short par-putt on the par-three 14th the only blemish in his closing holes.
“The wind was really strong on the back nine. However, I’m quite familiar with these conditions because it’s often like this in Chinese Taipei. I was happy with the way I held on at the end, but it was really the four birdies that were the key as they gave me a chance of winning,” said Hsu, who finished third in his domestic Order of Merit last year.
Hsu, who will miss next week’s Sofitel Golf Championship in Nanjing, admitted he had enjoyed his time on the Omega China Tour.
“I’ve played all four events this year and the tournaments are great, similar to the Asian Tour. The Chinese players are good, but many just need more experience in competition. I’ve been playing regular professional tournaments for over a decade, while many of them have only been competing for a couple of years.”
Chen and Liao, eighth and 10th on last year’s Omega Order of Merit, each celebrated after holing their respective par-putts at the 18th hole, although both are still looking for their first victory on Tour.
“The wind was so strong that it was difficult to even stand up sometimes,” said Liao, 30. “It was difficult staying steady when I was addressing the ball. However, I played with Hsu Mong-nan on Saturday, so I should make sure I learn more from him in the future.”
Chen, named Most Improved Player on last year’s Tour, seemed upbeat about his runner-up finish despite having led the event for the majority of the four days.
“My approach shots were poor in the middle of the round and I lost momentum after the double-bogey on the 12th, where I hit my tee-shot in a water hazard. Still, I’m happy to finish runner-up,” said the 29-year-old, who had three top-four finishes last year.
Yang looked set to finish in the top 10 after a stunning front nine, which included three successive birdies from hole six. However, the heavy winds threw her game off balance and she bagged bogeys on 15 and 17 and doubles on 16 and 18.
“When we got on the back nine, the wind really started to pick up and destroyed my rhythm. I was struggling to stand up straight sometimes,” the 25-year-old said.
“However, I played well before that. I’m not too worried I didn’t make the top 10, although I really wanted to finish with a sub-par round. It has been fun for the past two days, as I wasn’t so nervous after I made the cut.”
It has been an emotional week for Yang, whose family have been living in a tent since their home was damaged in Monday’s earthquake in Sichuan province. “I’ve been worried about my family every day, so it has been a long week.”
Shanghai Championship, Omega China Tour
Leading final-round scores - Chinese unless stated (click here for full leaderboard and prize money):
285 – Hsu Mong-nan (TPE) 72-71-72-70
287 – Chen Xiaoma 66-71-74-76, Liao Guiming 74-70-70-73
288 – Fan Zhipeng 73-66-72-77
290 – Wu Kangchun 75-70-71-74, Fu Xin 75-73-72-70, Zheng Wengen 75-71-71-73
291 – Li Chao 70-73-75-73
292 – Yuan Tian 77-71-76-68
293 – Alex Wu Ashun 74-70-71-78, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 75-72-70-76
294 – Wu Weihuang 76-76-71-71, James Yang Wenzhang 69-79-73-73, Deng Yuchao 72-70-78-74
295 – Nick Redfern (ENG) 84-70-70-71, Kong Weihai 76-74-73-72, Gu Shutao 73-76-73-73, Yuan Hao 69-76-74-76
296 – Liu Anda 76-73-73-74, Cai Nan 75-73-73-75, Yang Taoli 77-72-72-75
297 – He Shaocai 77-77-68-75, Liu Guojie 74-76-70-77
298 – Garth Cusick (AUS) 71-76-75-76, Wang Lei 79-75-67-77, James Su Dong (A) 74-74-72-78, Wong Woon-man (HKG) 74-73-79-72, Yau Sui-ming (HKG) 76-77-76-69
299 – Zhang Xinjun (A) 75-75-73-76, Shang Lei 71-75-75-78
May 18, 2008