Canada’s Justin Shin just outside top-five; China’s Jin Zhang, 22, leaps into top-10
KUNMING, YUNNAN, CHINA—American Charlie Saxon extended his lead at the top of the PGA TOUR Series-China Order of Merit following Sunday’s victory at the Guilin Championship, the fifth of 14 events this season.
The 25-year-old American earned RMB 270,000 in Guilin to increase his winnings to RMB 692,335 from five events and is a strong favorite at this week’s Kunming Championship at Yulongwan Golf Club.
Saxon, who finished second on the 2016 money list to earn a place on last year’s Web.com Tour, has two wins and a second in his last three PGA TOUR Series-China events, having last month won the Changsha Championship and finished joint runner-up in the Haikou Championship.
China’s Jin Zhang soared to ninth on the money list after the 22-year-old’s runner-up finish in Guilin earned him RMB 162,000 and boosted his earnings to RMB202,350. The top five will earn status on the Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR.
Korean Todd Baek, champion in Haikou, remained in second place, with RMB 339,150. Baek finished fourth on the 2014 money list to qualify for the Web.com Tour, where the big Korean played full seasons in 2015 and 2016 before finishing 15th in the money list on last year’s Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada.
American Jeffrey Kang (RMB 327,300), China’s Yi Cao (RMB 299,603) – who won the Chengdu Championship and Chongqing Championship in March respectively – and two-time runner-up William Harrold (RMB282,550) of England remained in third, fourth and fifth places.
Canada’s Justin Shin moved to sixth (RMB 254,250) after he followed up his joint runner-up finish in Haikou with a solo third in Guilin, where he earned RMB 102,000.
“My goal is to try to be in the top five,” Shin said. “Charlie has won two already, but I’m still going to try to catch him. I’m going to keep knocking on his door and we’ll see what happens.”
Chiehpo “Max” Lee of Chinese Taipei (RMB 243,150) and Japan’s Taihei Sato (RMB 210,562) round out a top eight featuring players from seven different nations.
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.