Auckland’s Nick Voke hasn’t played on PGA Tour Series-China for long, but he’s certainly made his presence felt. Voke beat England’s Stephen Lewton in a playoff on Sunday to win the Qinhuangdao Championship and became the first New Zealander to win a PGA Tour Series-China title since Josh Geary in 2015.
Voke, playing in the second-to-last group, shot a six-under 66 at Qinhuangdao Poly Golf Club to take the clubhouse lead at 12-under and then watched as Lewton, the third-round co-leader, birdied the final hole to force the playoff.
Both players parred the par-3 18th on the first extra hole and when they played the hole again, Voke sank a winning 15-foot birdie putt to win:
Voke, who only turned pro in January, was thrilled to get his first win as a professional in only his second appearance on the tour. In his debut last week, he tied for fourth at the Suzhou Open.
The 23-year-old continued his excellent form in China, finishing with six birdies in a bogey-free final round, and he has already set his sights on next year’s Web .com Tour after the victory propelled him to 13th on the Order of Merit. He earned RMB 270,000 ($NZ60,000) for the title. Voke also counts seven made cuts on the 2018 PGA Tour of Australasia, including three top-10s, among his season’s efforts.
“This victory opens up some opportunities for me, and it’s pretty exciting to see what doors can open from it,” said Voke, who graduated from Iowa State University in 2017 after an American college career that featured five victories. “If I don’t qualify for the Web .com Tour, I will play here in China (in 2019). I feel it’s the best pathway to get to the Web .com Tour and hopefully play well enough there to get through that pathway [to the US PGA Tour].”
Lewton held the lead for most of the day, after birdies at at the second, fourth, fifth and ninth holes, but struggled to keep the putts dropping on the back nine, where he reeled off seven successive pars. The 35-year-old picked up his first bogey of the day on No.17 before birdieing the final hole to force the extra session. But his missed birdie attempt on the second extra hole opened the door for Voke as the Kiwi’s putt was a couple of feet nearer and on a similar line.
“I got off to a really good start. I birdied two, four and five, made a great par save on seven and then birdied nine, so I was out in four-under. On the back nine, I played really good again but just didn’t hole any putts,” Lewton said. “I hit one slightly errant tee shot on 17 that put me in trouble and an errant second to make bogey. Then [I] birdied the last to force a playoff, but it wasn’t to be. In the playoff, I was just trying to hit it as close as possible. That’s all you can do in a playoff; it’s win or lose.”
The highest Australian finishers were James Marchesani and Max McCardle, who both tied for fourth, four shots out of the playoff.
Any player in the top-25 of the moneylist after the Qinhuangdao Championship is exempt to the Second Stage of the Web .com Tour Qualifying Tournament, which will be held from October 30-November 2 and November 6-9.
The 2018 PGA Tour Series-China concludes it 2018 season with the Macau Championship (September 27-30), the Zhuhai Championship (October 4-7) and Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong (October 11-14). From the final Order of Merit, the top-five will earn status on next year’s Web .com Tour, top-10 players are exempt into the Final Stage of the Web .com Tour Qualifying Tournament from December 6-9 and any player ranked 11th to 25th is exempt to the Second Qualifying Stage.