Li Haotong announced his name on the world stage in swashbuckling style as the 20 year old claimed a maiden European Tour victory on home soil at the Volvo China Open, courtesy of a flawless eight under par final round 64.
In front of ecstatic and adoring home fans, Li proved why is regarded as a superstar in the making by becoming the second successive home winner of this event after a thrilling finish at Topwin Golf and Country Club.
Felipe Aguilar flew out of the blocks and looked odds on to take the title as the Chilean took a three shot lead early on. Li, however, piled the pressure on the leader with a four under par front nine before starting the back nine with back to back birdies.
In a superb display of iron play, he picked up two more shots at the 15th and the 17th and Aguilar’s hopes sank with a double-bogey at the par three 16th, where he found the water with his tee shot.
Li - who won a Volvo China Junior event six years ago and played his first professional tournament as an amateur at this tournament in 2011 - earned a three shot victory with a 22 under par total, Aguilar’s closing 69 earning him outright second place while Lucas Bjerregaard, Richard Bland and Marcel Siem shared third spot on 18 under par.
“It means so much to me, I cannot even describe. It’s especially special because I won a Volvo China Junior event in 2010 and so I love the Volvo China Open – it was my first professional event too. For me it means a lot. Last year I played great in this event but I didn’t play well in the last round so I’m really happy to be holding this trophy right now.
“Last week in Sheznen I didn’t play very well – didn’t hit the ball well and didn’t hole many putts but I just relaxed myself this week. I didn’t even think I would make the cut this week, seriously, so it’s just amazing.
“After 14 holes I didn’t look at the scoreboard, but I just played within myself and just wanted to hang in there – keeping it on the fairways and the greens.
“At 18, my third shot – it was the most nervous I’ve been in my whole life. Last year I was leading by two in Shenzhen but Kiradech Aphibarnrat made eagle so I just thought, I can’t lose a shot on the last hole. This opens up so many doors for me and I will be sitting down with my family and my agent now speaking about these things.”
“It's a good week. Before you even start playing, if someone tells you you're going to finish second, you take it. It was a good overall week except for one hole, one swing, and unfortunately that was on the 16th hole today. Besides that I'm quite happy with the way I played this week.
“I haven't been playing very and I played well this week. This was a turning point. I'm into the Olympics now representing my country. There are too many positive things just to worry about one bad shot.”
“It's a good week. Obviously I haven't been playing great coming here so it's nice to be in contention and feel that pressure again and I thought I handled myself pretty well out there. On the front nine it seemed like I was on the wrong side of the hole a lot so I had some tough putts that I didn't really get things going.
“Felipe played awesome on the front nine, so did Haotong. They posted some good numbers on the first nine holes and I couldn't really get it going so it was a quiet day for me. I hit a lot of greens but didn't make a lot of putts.
“Not as good as yesterday and I was hoping to be a little more in contention coming down the last few holes but all in all it's a good week. I’ll go home and take a lot of positives from this. I'm looking forward to the Irish Open and BMW PGA Championship and all those events. It will be a good stretch, a busy summer.”
With this win - Li Haotong - European Tour
- His first European Tour International Schedule victory in his 20th European Tour event.
- Could move to just inside the top 130 in the Official World Golf Ranking from 237th.
- This victory beats his best previous European Tour performance of second in the 2015 Shenzhen International.
- The seventh first-time winner of the season. They are: They are Nathan Holman (Australian PGA Championship), Marc Leishman (Nedbank Golf Challenge), Brandon Stone (BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni), Haydn Porteous (Joburg Open), Andrew Johnston (Real Club Valderrama Open de España hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation), Soomin Lee (Shenzhen International) and Li Haotong (Volvo China Open).
- The third consecutive first-time winner on The European Tour following, Andrew Johnston (Real Club Valderrama Open de España hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation) and Soomin Lee (Shenzhen International).
- The first-time there have been three consecutive first-time winners on The European Tour since Marc Leishman (2016 Nedbank Golf Challenge), Brandon Stone (2016 BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni) and Haydn Porteous (2016 Joburg Open).
- This victory beats his previous best 2016 European Tour performance of tied 72nd in the 2016 Shenzhen International.
- Victory comes in his sixth appearance in the Volvo China Open.
- This victory beats his previous best performance in the Volvo China Open of sixth in 2015.
- Becomes the second consecutive Chinese winner of the Volvo China Open, following Ashun Wu in 2015.
- Becomes the first Chinese winner on The European Tour since Ashun Wu in this event in 2015.
- Becomes the second Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil.
- Becomes the fourth Chinese player to win a European Tour event. They are: Zhang Lian-wei (2003 Singapore Masters), Liang Wen-chong (2007 Singapore Masters), Ashun Wu (2015 Volvo China Open) and Li Haotong (2016 Volvo China Open).
- China becomes the first country to win the Volvo China Open four times since the event began in 1995. They are: Chen Jun (1997), Zhang Lian-wei (2003), Ashun Wu (2015) and Li Haotong (2016).
- Becomes the 22nd different winner of the Volvo China Open in the 22nd hosting of China’s national open.
- Becomes the 23rd different Asian player to win on The European Tour.
- Becomes the second consecutive Asian player to win on The European Tour, following Soomin Lee (2016 Shenzhen International).
- Aged 20 years and 272 days becomes the youngest winner of the Volvo China Open since the event became part of The European Tour in the 2005 season. This beats the previous record of Alexander Levy, who was 23 years and 269 days in 2014.
- Aged 20 years and 272 days becomes the second youngest Asian winner in European Tour history, behind Noh Seung-yul, who was 18 years and 282 days when he won the 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open.
- Aged 20 years and 272 days becomes the youngest winner on The European Tour in 2016.
- Joins Stephen Dodd (2005), Jeev Milkha Singh 2006 (April 2006), Damien McGrane (2008), Nicolas Colaserts (2011), Alexander Levy (2014) and Ashun Wu (2015), as players to make the Volvo China Open their first European Tour victory.
- Becomes the first time China has won the same European Tour event in consecutive seasons.
- His final round of 64 (-8) is the lowest final round by a winner since the event became part of The European Tour in 2005, beating the 65 (-7) of Paul Casey in 2006 (November 2005).
- Gains a European Tour exemption until the end of the 2018 season, should he join.
- Gains his largest European Tour prize of €450,176.
- Aged 20 years and 272 days becomes the youngest winner on The European Tour since Matteo Manassero, who was 19 years and 206 days at the 2012 Barclays Singapore Open.
- Becomes the 13th youngest winner of an official European Tour event, aged 20 years and 272 days.
- Becomes the seventh player this season to win after making up a final round deficit.
2016 Volvo China Open - Final
266 L Haotong (Chn) 69 67 66 64,
269 F Aguilar (Chi) 68 65 67 69,
270 R Bland (Eng) 69 67 68 66, M Siem (Ger) 68 67 69 66, L Bjerregaard (Den) 68 67 65 70,
271 P Hanson (Swe) 66 71 67 67, R Ramsay (Sco) 68 70 67 66, S Hend (Aus) 71 68 68 64,
272 B Virto Astudillo (Esp) 67 70 68 67, F Zanotti (Par) 66 71 67 68, D Lipsky (USA) 69 67 70 66, A Noren (Swe) 67 67 68 70,
273 T Hatton (Eng) 68 67 67 71, G Havret (Fra) 70 66 67 70,
274 R Wattel (Fra) 72 66 69 67, T Olesen (Den) 71 66 70 67, B Dredge (Wal) 70 69 70 65, N Colsaerts (Bel) 70 67 65 72,
275 T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 70 68 73 64, H Porteous (RSA) 69 69 68 69,
276 B Hebert (Fra) 69 70 67 70, G Bourdy (Fra) 66 72 67 71, M Carlsson (Swe) 69 70 66 71, M Jiménez (Esp) 69 68 71 68, H Otto (RSA) 63 71 71 71, R Karlberg (Swe) 69 71 71 65, J Lagergren (Swe) 68 71 67 70,
277 S Gallacher (Sco) 69 69 71 68, N Holman (Aus) 68 71 69 69, D Fichardt (RSA) 69 70 71 67, T Kim (Kor) 71 64 72 70, A Levy (Fra) 70 67 68 72, B Wiesberger (Aut) 65 69 73 70,
278 R Paratore (Ita) 69 68 72 69, L Slattery (Eng) 71 70 68 69, S Gros (Fra) 72 69 71 66, J Campillo (Esp) 70 67 68 73, B Rumford (Aus) 70 69 72 67,
279 J Quesne (Fra) 70 70 71 68, C Lee (Sco) 72 68 68 71, G Boyd (Eng) 72 65 73 69, D Brooks (Eng) 70 69 70 70, S Benson (Eng) 72 67 71 69,
280 J Luiten (Ned) 67 71 72 70, R Kakko (Fin) 66 74 70 70, R Fisher (Eng) 72 67 68 73, J Scrivener (Aus) 72 69 71 68,
281 N Cullen (Aus) 70 71 70 70, E De La Riva (Esp) 69 70 72 70, J Winther (Den) 68 71 72 70, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 66 73 72, J Carlsson (Swe) 69 72 65 75,
282 R Davies (Wal) 71 68 73 70, M Warren (Sco) 73 68 70 71,
283 G Storm (Eng) 73 68 70 72,
284 R Jacquelin (Fra) 70 69 71 74, P Edberg (Swe) 72 66 72 74, C Paisley (Eng) 71 69 71 73,
285 L Chieh-Po (Tpe) 69 68 75 73,
286 D Drysdale (Sco) 72 69 73 72, W Ashun (Chn) 71 70 76 69, D Zecheng (Chn) 72 68 72 74,
288 W Wei-Huang (Chn) 72 69 73 74, R Fox (Nzl) 72 69 80 67,
291 W Murillo (Ven) 68 72 76 75,
292 D McKenzie (Aus) 71 69 72 80.