HONG KONG, CHINA—New Zealand’s Nick Voke won his third PGA TOUR Series-China in four events at the season-ending RMB 2 million Clearwater Bay Open to bank RMB 360,000 and finish third on the Order of Merit, so joining four other Tour players on next year’s 2019 Web.com Tour.
Starting the final day five strokes clear, Voke shot a third consecutive 3-under 67 for a 14-under total at The Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club.
In a dramatic turn of events, England’s Callum Tarren fired a 62 to finish solo second and win the Order of Merit by less than 3,000 RMB ahead of American Charlie Saxon, while Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira and Korea’s Todd Baek finished fourth and fifth on the money list to also secure Web.com Tour membership.
American Benjamin Lein shot 65 to secure third place at 10-under, three shots ahead of compatriot Charlie Netzel (64), Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul (68) and Australia’s Deyen Lawson (68). Korea’s Taewoo Kim, who played in Sunday’s final group for a second successive year, carded 70 to take seventh at 6-under, one ahead of England’s William Harrold (67).
Voke, 23, continued his remarkable recent run on the PGA TOUR Series-China, which started with a tie for fourth in Suzhou then back-to-back wins in Qinhuangdao and Macau last month. After a tie for 16th in last week’s Zhuhai Championship, the rookie pro returned to his winning ways to collect the biggest check presented on the Tour.
“It’s been a really awesome run of golf and I’m really excited to see what I do in the next couple of years. This win means a hell of a lot, to be honest with you,” said Voke.
“The first couple of victories I managed to come from behind, so to come out here with a five-shot lead and know that everyone is chasing me, it’s a different sort of victory. I’m very proud with how I handled myself and how I went out and played today. It’s absolutely the greatest pro week I’ve had so far.”
Voke had admitted he was shaking with nerves while in the lead on Saturday, but managed to stay calm in front of big crowds and hold on to the lead by carding four birdies and one bogey. Voke had also made only one bogey in each of his previous three rounds.
“I drove it very well all week and didn’t make many opportunities to make bogeys. I only made four in the end so that just summarizes how it was for me out there. Just very solid and steady golf,” said Voke.
“I’m pretty exhausted and absolutely thrilled to be where I am and I think it will take me a couple weeks to realize what I’ve accomplished here. Right now, though, I’m just pretty tired.”
Despite feeling some pressure from Tarren entering the back-nine, the 23-year-old Voke remained calm and managed to grind it out on the back-nine.
“The first time I saw the leaderboard was on the ninth green and I knew Callum was going deep and I had to keep things going if I wanted to win,” said Voke.
“Just a good gritty effort, that back nine. I stuck to my game plan and I felt the pressure, but I handled myself and my emotions and some adversity so just absolutely thrilled.”
Tarren, 28, recorded his fourth runner-up finish of the season to secure the number one position on the Order of Merit, despite never having won on the Tour, which he first played in 2016 when he finished eighth on the money list.
The Englishman carded eight birdies in a bogey-free round as he looked to put the pressure on Voke and test the young New Zealander’s nerves.
“I just went out today and thought if I could put some pressure on Nick early on and see what nerve he has and obviously he has pretty solid nerves,” said Tarren, who admitted he was surprised to win the Order of Merit.
“I’m just shocked and I’m just over the moon. I felt calm all day because at the end of the day I needed something special to catch Charlie and luckily I’ve produced that. Even on the last hole, I was calm because it was either win, second or bust, so I just had to perform and luckily I did.”
The top-five on the PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit will automatically earn membership on next year’s Web.com Tour, the top-10 will be eligible for the Final Stage of the Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament from December 6-9 and players 11-25 will be exempt to the Second Qualifying Stage.
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.