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HomeAsian TourCHINA’S LI ENJOYS DREAM DEBUT AT THE OPEN

CHINA’S LI ENJOYS DREAM DEBUT AT THE OPEN

SOUTHPORT-ENGLAND – Li Hao Tong of China makes a birdie putt on the 18th green as Ernie Els of South Africa looks on, pictured on Sunday 23 July, during the final of the 146th Open Championship at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Southport, England. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Southport, England, July 23: China’s Li Hao-tong equalled the lowest final round in Major history and earned a spot at The Masters next year after finishing third at The Open on Sunday.

The Open debutant fired a brilliant seven-under-par 63 thanks to a flawless card highlighted by four closing birdies. He totalled six-under-par 274 to finish six shots behind eventual winner Jordan Spieth of the United States at Royal Birkdale.

Li’s effort matched only three other players’ final round score – Jodie Mudd (1991), Payne Stewart (1993) and Henrik Stenson (2016).

“Not really, actually,” Li replied when asked if he expected to shoot a 63. “For some reason after hole No. 8, I just started holing everything. Now I’m feeling awesome, it is unbelievable actually. It means a lot to me.”

“It’s kind of a dream come true, you know. I definitely got a lot support from China, from my friends, from fans, you know, just keep behaving myself and play some decent golf. I think it was just more a mental thing. When I had bad shot, I just always tell myself, hang on in there and try to hole the putt. Glad to see I holed everything,” he smiled.

This is the best ever finish by a golfer from China in a Major tournament. Liang Wen-chong previously finished tied eighth at the 2010 US PGA Championship.

However, Lu Liang-huan of Chinese Taipei or better known as Mr. Lu remains as the best Asian finisher at The Open with his runner-up result also at Royal Birkdale in 1971.

Li’s playing partner, Ernie Els of South Africa, who is a multiple Major champion, praised the young Chinese for his fearless approach.

“That’s not the same number as (Brendan) Grace, but that’s as good a round,” Els said. “He had a nice attitude. You could see he was not backing off. The wind was picking up too. He didn’t miss a putt. He did everything he could.”

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