SHENZHEN, (AFP): Mikko Korhonen pipped France’s Benjamin Hebert in a nerve-jangling playoff to win the 25th Volvo China Open Sunday and secure his place in this month’s US PGA Championship.
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen holds up the trophy to celebrate after winning the China Open golf tournament in Shenzhen, in China’s southern Guangdong province on 5 May, 2019 - AFP
The Finn shot a superb six-under par 66 to finish at 20-under par for the tournament alongside overnight leader Hebert, who had a three-under 69 at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen.
Korhonen looked icy cool when he sank a treacherous left-to-right downhill 10-footer for a birdie in the playoff, though he admitted his knees were trembling.
“Yeah, there were a few butterflies with that one,”Korhonen told AFP after being drenched in celebratory champagne by his fellow Finnish players on the final green. “It wasn’t the easiest of putts.” He promised it would be a “good flight” back to Europe on Sunday night after ensuring a place in a major field for just the second time in his career.
“We’ll have some celebrations I’m sure,” he added.
It was just his second win in a European Tour event after his Shot Clock Masters victory in Austria last year.
The triumph takes him into the world’s top 100 and the top 20 on the Race To Dubai standings and means that he will head to Bethpage, New York, for the season’s second major in two weeks’ time. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “It was my first time in a play-off and I had nothing to lose. It was a battle all day as everyone was making putts and I had to stay patient and do the same.” He had started Sunday three shots behind Hebert along with Spain’s Jorge Campillo, and the final three-ball produced a drama filled final-round as the lead changed hands between the trio multiple times.