MACAU, China—American Kevin Benstead shot a 2-under 69 to top the 18-hole Monday qualifier and secure entry into this week’s Macau Championship, which has a record purse of RMB 2.1 million for being the season-ending event on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.
After the start was postponed by three hours to 10.00 a.m. due to dangerous weather, the 29-year-old fired five birdies and three bogeys in windy conditions at Caesars Golf Macau, which was enough to win the qualifier by four shots.
Singapore’s Marc Ong will play in his third Tour event of 2019 after carding a 73 to share second with China’s Yan Sun. Seven other players also qualified with Chinese Taipei’s Hongsheng Tseng claiming the 10th and final spot after winning a four-man playoff after carding a 77.
Benstead will make his Tour debut on Thursday after being persuaded to check out the “Vegas of the East” by good friend Motin Yeung, champion of the Tour’s most recent event at the Zhuzhou Classic.
“Motin has been telling me about this Tour for a while. He always had good things to say and I always wanted to come play here so I’m glad I finally did,” said Benstead. “He’s a good friend and I was excited to come join him this week here. It will be fun.”
Despite being 2-over through his first six holes, Benstead, who teed off on 10, regrouped to card three birdies in a row from hole 17 and added two more birdies on holes 4 and 7 before dropping a shot on 8.
“I was 2-over through four holes and I stayed patient and made some good shots and made some birdies at the later part of the round,” said Benstead, who is looking to make the most of the opportunity. “I’m going to try and put the four best rounds together that I can. Obviously a win would be a dream come true. It would give me a chance to play second stage (of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School) and would also give me status here in China for next year. That would be amazing.”
Ong, 23, was delighted to earn his spot in the field and enjoyed the layout of the course as he also looks to keep the momentum rolling into Thursday.
“It’s such a nice course. It’s short on some holes but it’s very tricky, especially off the tee and you really need to hit the ball good to post a good score here,” said Ong. “And I think I played it pretty nicely. I didn’t manage to hole as many putts as I think I could but all-in-all it was a great day. I kept the ball in play, hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances so hope to keep it up the rest of the week.”