Paul Casey claims title in playoff
England 's Paul Casey enjoyed a sensational play-off victory at the US$1.3 million Volvo China Open when he defeated compatriot Oliver Wilson on Sunday.
The Ryder Cup star, who started the final round five strokes off the lead, charged into contention with a course record equalling seven-under-par 65 at Shenzhen Golf Club before lifting his second title in China this year with a birdie in the first play-off hole.
A gutsy Wilson tied Casey on 13-under-par 275 with a 69 but eventually succumbed in the heat of battle, a costly bogey in regulation on the 17th proving decisive before finishing with a bogey in extra time where he was twice in bunkers.
Casey's first Volvo China Open title, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, was his fifth career win and also reaffirmed his stature as one of the world's best young golfers. He earned US$216,660 and a golden-coloured Chinese jacket.
"I feel very happy. I accomplished what I came here to do and it wasn't easy. The game improved as the week went on and today was a really solid round of golf. I gave myself a lot of chances and was very fortunate to get that chance at the end to get into the play-off. Very satisfied," said the 28-year-old Casey, who arrived this week stating his intention to return to the winner's circle.
Casey, playing in the ninth-to-last pairing, shifted into gear early with four birdies over a run of six holes as he went out in 32. Birdies on 11, 12 and 17 saw him set the clubhouse target which Wilson matched.
The big-hitting Casey could have wrapped it all up in regulation but missed a four-foot birdie putt at the last hole. "I have played five times in China and this is great," said Casey. "I'm sure Oliver felt frustrated making par at the last (in regulation) and I was possibly able to collect myself and I was very focussed in the play-off. I'm sure he was very disappointed but his time will come," added Casey, who won the TCL Classic in a play-off on Hainan island earlier this year.
The 25-year-old Wilson , playing in his second season on the European Tour, battled into contention with four straight birdies from the 12th but conceded that a costly dropped shot on 17 when he missed the green hurt his chances.
"I thought I had it in my hands and I didn't look at the leaderboard. I didn't know anything until I stood on the 18th tee. It was close. 17 was really the one. If I had parred that, it would have been safe. I didn't know at that time and I was trying to make birdie," said Wilson, who earned his career's biggest cheque of US$144,440.
"In the play-off, I hit a decent drive, didn't hit that bad a three wood but it didn't quite carry as far as I thought it would. I pushed it a bit and it came off at the worst possible position on the green and I was struggling once I got into there (the bunker). Paul was always going to make four from where he was."
England 's Barry Lane finished third, a stroke behind the play-off duo, after a 68 which included a double bogey on the 15th hole while Asia 's best finisher was Thailand 's Chawalit Plaphol, the leader of the first two rounds.
The Thai, who was tied fourth in last year's Volvo China Open, settled for the same position once again with overnight leader Ross Fisher of England on 277 after signing off with a 71.
"I had lots of birdie chances which I just couldn't take and that was a little disappointing. I didn't feel like I had a lot of luck today. Yesterday's bad round (where he shot 74) was the one which cost me the tournament," said the 31-year-old Thai.
China 's hopes dipped dramatically when Zhang Lian-wei endured a disappointing outward 38. He battled back for an even par 72 for tied seventh place with last year's Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who shot a fine 67, and India's Jyoti Randhawa, who carded a 70.
Zhang, the 2003 Volvo China Open champion, started the day two strokes off the lead but bogeys on the third and eighth hole, where he found the watery grave, derailed his hopes. "This week, my performance on the front nine has not been good. I was really surprised that my bunker shot on the eighth hole flew into the water. Normally bunker play is my strongest part of the game but I have been confused with it this week," said Zhang.
"I was rushing it a bit today and I didn't get the result. After the bogey on eight, I knew that my chances of winning were slim. There was some pressure on me as I was the only Chinese player who made the cut. I hope that the young players will come up fast."
The Volvo China Open is the third-to-last event in Asia and the second leg of the 2006 season for Europe .
Leading final round scores
275 - Paul Casey (ENG) 71-69-70-65, Oliver Wilson (ENG) 68-67-71-69
(Casey won with a birdie on first hole of a sudden-death play-off)
276 - Barry Lane (ENG) 67-74-67-68
277 - Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 65-67-74-71, Ross Fisher (ENG) 69-68-68-72
278 - Peter Lawrie (IRL) 69-72-68-69
279 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 72-70-70-67, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 71-67-71-70, Miles Tunnicliff (ENG) 68-70-70-71, Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 70-71-66-72
280 - Scott Strange (AUS) 73-67-70-70
281 - Simon Yates (SCO) 68-68-74-71, Kenneth Ferrie (ENG) 70-70-70-71, Keith Horne (RSA) 74-68-68-71, Francois Delamontagne (FRA) 65-70-74-72, Fredrik Widmark (SWE) 75-65-69-72, Anders Hansen (DEN) 70-70-69-72, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 72-70-67-72
282 - Anthony Wall (ENG) 71-71-71-69, Soren Hansen (DEN) 70-72-70-70, Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 73-69-70-70, Johan Skold (SWE) 68-75-69-70, Soren Kjeldsen (DEN) 74-67-67-74
283 - David Park (WAL) 69-73-71-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 72-68-72-71, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 67-73-71-72, Daniel Vancsik (ARG) 73-70-68-72
284 - Rahil Gangjee (IND) 72-71-71-70, Jose Manuel Lara (ESP) 69-75-70-70, Joakim Haeggman (SWE) 74-69-70-71, Jean Van De Velde (FRA) 73-70-69-72
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