Korhonen captures Volvo China Open
5 May 2019
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen won the Volvo China Open after beating Frenchman Benjamin Hebert in a play-off at Genzon Golf Club in Guangdong.
In an intriguing final day tussle, last week’s Trophée Hassan II champion Jorge Campillo, overnight leader Hebert and Korhonen – all playing together – shared a three-way lead stepping onto the 17th tee, but the 38-year-old from Helsinki nosed ahead with a crucial birdie four on the penultimate hole.
Hebert, one shot back with one to play, drove the green on the par-four 18th, two-putting for a birdie, a closing 69 and a 20-under-par total to take it down the 18th once again. But Korhonen, who had signed for a 66, never flinched in the face of intense pressure and a chip and a putt were enough for a winning birdie three on the extra hole.
Victory moved Korhonen up from 98th to 17th in the Race to Dubai rankings and earned him a place in the US PGA Championship at Bethpage in two weeks’ time.
For Hebert, it was a second runner-up finish on the European Tour, while Campillo has now finished in the top three in five of his last six appearances. Li Haotong was the leading Chinese player after carding a final round 66 to seal fourth place.
Korhonen said: “It’s an amazing feeling. I don’t know how I did it, but it’s probably the putter that made the difference this week. I made lots of putts from outside 15-20 feet. I made a birdie on 17, and gave myself a chance to win it on 18, but I was happy to get into the play-off. It was my first time in a play-off and I had nothing to lose. I just had to make birdie, which I managed to do Winning a golf tournament is never easy, but it’s great to have this second win in the bag and I’m delighted.”
It was a heartbreaking end for Hebert, a winner six times on the Challenge Tour, but yet to taste victory on the main Tour. The Frenchman went into the day with a three-shot lead over the field, but ultimately came up just short with a round of 69. “It’s been a long journey to come from Morocco to play here then go back again, but second place is still very good,” he said. “I missed the wedding of one of my cousins to be here, so it was very important for me to have a good week. Mikko made no mistakes and putted great. I knew that I had to probably shoot a 68 to keep the lead and win the tournament, but I only managed a 69.”