Charlie Saxon bids to protect lead in Order of Merit, while second-placed Motin Yeung and third-placed Todd Baek look to ‘catch up’ as the race continues to finish in the top-five and secure Web.com Tour status
HAIYANG, SHANDONG, CHINA—Charlie Saxon is hoping to ‘keep winning’ and secure his third PGA TOUR Series-China title of the year at this week’s Qingdao Championship as he continues his bid to win the Order of Merit and return to the Web.com Tour.
Saxon, 25, finished second in the 2016 Order of Merit to earn a place on last year’s ‘Path to the PGA TOUR’, but took time to regain his form after a hip operation and lost his card. Having been in excellent form throughout 2018, the big-hitting American is determined to return to the Web.com Tour and try again to qualify for the PGA TOUR.
Saxon has earned RMB 783,085 from seven events, including two wins, and is well clear of Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung (RMB 436,675). After a tie for 16th in last week’s Yantai Championship, the money-list leader is hoping to put himself in contention at Tiger Beach Golf Links, a sister course of Carnoustie, host of The Open Championship this week.
“I need to keep the pedal down. A lot of good players are here trying to chase me, so I have to keep winning and that starts this Thursday,” said Saxon, a four-time winner on the Tour, having also won twice in 2016.
“I didn’t play well last week, but I worked on a few things so hopefully it’ll be a lot better this week. I love the course here; it’s really neat. I didn’t expect to come here and see this, but it’s a really cool course and one of my favorites we’ve played this year.”
Yeung, 24 is also in good form after backing his first professional win at last month’s Kunming Championship with an eighth-place finish last week, and believes his game is suited to the seaside links course in Haiyang, near Qingdao.
“My game felt pretty solid last week. I just hope that this week, some part of my game will shine a little more and that will bring my score down, and hopefully that will produce a good result,” said Yeung.
“I think this course suits me because you have to hit straight tee-shots and I think that’s something I’m doing well right now. I didn’t lose one ball last week and hopefully I’ll keep it going this week and catch up to Charlie.”
Todd Baek is third with RMB 429,650 and, like Saxon, keen on a return to the Web.com Tour, where the Korean played in 2015 and 2016 after qualifying from the first PGA TOUR Series-China season in 2014. Baek is focused on at last finishing in the top-five by the end of the season, and admits he’s excited about the layout at Tiger Beach.
“I like the course set-up. It’s pretty challenging and it’s tough, so I think you have to stay patient out here. It’s going to be windy and you can find some trouble, so I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Baek, who won the Haikou Championship in May.
“Hopefully I can get another W here. My goal this year is to finish top-five and I’m heading that way, so I need to practice hard and stay on course. There are a lot of good players out here on this Tour, so I need to keep playing well.”
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.