Events

‘Tech’ on a High After Springing Zhuhai Surprise

October 7, 2018

Kevin Techakanokboon is sprayed with champagne following his maiden success. Picture by PGA Tour Series-China/Leckie Wong

Zhuhai, Guangdong, China: Kevin Techakanokboon shot a closing two-over 73 to hold off Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira and win his first pro title at the RMB1.5 million Zhuhai Championship, the penultimate event of this year’s PGA Tour Series-China and the Tour’s 50th event since its inauguration in 2014.

With Malaysian pro Arie Irawan as his caddie for the weekend, American Techakanokboon parred the last seven holes at Orient Golf Club to finish four-under overall, one ahead of 20-year-old Kosaihira (69) – now third on the Order of Merit – and two clear of money-list leader Charlie Saxon (72) of the United States, who led after the first and second rounds.

Chinese amateur Chen Yilong (71) finished one-under to share fourth with Korean Todd Baek (72), who played in the final group with Saxon and Techakanokboon, while China’s He Zeming (71) shared sixth with New Zealand’s Luke Toomey (68) at even-par.

China’s Chen Zihao (72) was alone in eighth at one-over, one ahead of compatriot Zhang Huilin (70), American Ryan Siegler (71), Italian Aron Zemmer (74), and England’s Callum Tarren (72), who is second on the Order of Merit and racked up his Tour-leading eighth top-10 finish of the season.

Nick Voke started the day four shots off the leader, but the New Zealander’s bid for a third straight title on Tour faded as he shot a closing 77 to tie for 16th.

Techakanokboon – nicknamed ‘Tech’ – started the week 88th on the Order of Merit, so was primarily determined to play well in a bid to finish in the top-50 of the Order of Merit and retain his Tour card, but ended up taking home the RMB270,000 winner’s cheque.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m sure later I’ll really feel the emotions of it, but right now I’m just happy to be done with it,” said Techakanokboon, who’s now 20th on the money list as he heads to the season-ending RMB 2 million Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong.

“I’m feeling pretty relieved. I knew I needed a good three weeks in the last three events to try and keep my status for next year, and thankfully I’ve done that.”

Techakanokboon, who also has citizenship in Thailand, picked up his only two birdies of the day on the second and third, but bogeyed the fourth, seventh, eighth and 11th, before seven straight pars was enough to hold off Kosaihira.

“I had quite a few chances for birdies on the back nine, but nothing went in. Pars are not bad on a day like today, as the course was playing pretty tough,” said Techakanokboon, who graduated from Long Beach State University in 2015.

Kevin Techakanokboon receives a guard of honour en route to the prize giving ceremony. Picture by PGA Tour Series-China/Leckie Wong

“Arie helped a lot. He kept me really focused on our gameplan. I made a good bogey on eight after hitting in the hazard on the par-three, and that really kept the round going and I just tried to hang in there.”

Kosaihira, who was playing in the penultimate group, started the day with an eagle on the par-five first and then racked up five birdies, including on three of the last five holes, and five bogeys, even losing four balls on the testing layout.

His runner-up finish propelled him three spots on the Order of Merit, a big boost in his bid to finish in the top-five of the money list and earn status on next year’s Web.com Tour.

Saxon, 25, started with 10 consecutive pars before carding bogeys on 12, 14 and 16, then closed with back-to-back birdies to secure solo third.

The American has nowearned RMB1,076,967 to become just the second player after ‘MartyDou Zecheng – who played on the 2017-18 PGA Tour – to earn over RMB1 million in a single season.

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