CHANGSHA, CHINA—American Charlie Saxon won his third PGA TOUR Series-China title by securing a two-shot victory over Japan’s Taihei Sato at the Changsha Championship on Monday morning.
Saxon carded a 68 to finish with a 10-under total of 278 at the Hunan Dragon Lake International Golf Club, where play was suspended twice on Sunday afternoon due to severe thunderstorms, forcing 24 players to complete their rounds on Monday.
Saxon, playing in the penultimate group, was 9-under when he resumed on the 15th fairway at 7:15am, while Sato, playing in the final flight, started at the 14th, two shots behind the leader.
The 25-year-old Saxon won two titles in 2016 on his way to finishing second on the Order of Merit, and made sure of lifting his third trophy with three pars and a birdie on the par-5 18th, a hole Sato also birdied to post a closing 70.
“It was really kind of a dream finish. It was what I wanted to do when I went to bed last night, so I was happy to be able to do it,” said Saxon, whose Order of Merit finish in 2016 earned him a place on last year’s Web.com Tour.
“Those final holes are not easy at all; they’re playing straight in the wind and there’s disaster to be had on all of them.
“However, I didn’t really miss a shot coming down the stretch, played really solid holes, gave myself birdie looks, tapped in for par and then birdied the last so was really happy with that.”
Along with many of his fellow competitors, Saxon then headed to the airport to fly to tropical Hainan Island for this week’s Haikou Championship, the fourth event on this season’s PGA TOUR Series-China.
“I’ll stay away from the golf course for a couple of days and play the pro-am on Wednesday,” Saxon said. “I’m looking forward to the week. I heard it’s a good course and a good hotel so should be fun.”
Sato, 24, was disappointed not to catch Saxon, but remained positive after an impressive performance in Hunan.
“It was a good week for me,” he said. “I’m playing very well and I’m very happy.”
American Kurt Kitayama (75), who played with Sato in the last group, restarted in third place at 5-under and bagged a birdie at 14 before closing with two bogeys, retaining third place at 4-under.
Chinese Taipei’s Chiehpo “Max” Lee (77), co-leader with Kitayama after the third round, also birdied 14 and finished fourth at 2-under, one ahead of Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira (71).
China’s Xuewen Luo (73), Korea’s Taewoo Kim (73) and first-round leader Jeffrey Kang (76) of the U.S.A. shared sixth at even-par.
China’s Changping Chen (74) built on his tie for 18th at the previous event, the Chongqing Championship, by finishing ninth at one-over, one ahead of Italy’s Aron Zemmer (72).
Three other Chinese – Huilin Zhang (73), Zihao Chen (76) and Jin Zhang (71) – tied for 14th with Australia’s James Marchesani (73), who won the 2017 Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong.
Every tournament on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China offers RMB 1.5 million, a 25-percent increase over purse levels from 2016.
The PGA TOUR established PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014 as its third international developmental tour, following in the footsteps of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada. Since its inception, PGA TOUR Series-China players have received Official World Golf Ranking points for top finishes at official tournaments.