HAIKOU, China（April 14 , 2019)—America’s David Kocher won his biggest event as a professional when he triumphed in a playoff over Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira at the weather-affected Haikou Championship, the third event of this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.
The third round resumed this morning at 7:20 due to Saturday’s weather delays, and the final round started shortly after at 7:30 a.m., in a bid to finish the tournament before anticipated lightning in the afternoon. Groupings stayed the same for the third and fourth rounds.
Kocher and Kosaihira, who were playing in the seventh- and sixth-to-last-groups, respectively, both carded final-round, 6-under 66s at Sunac Haikou 3KM Golf Club, but it was Kosaihira who had the first look at victory. After Kocher set the early clubhouse lead at 10-under, Kosaihira hit the flagstick with his approach on hole 18, which left him with a 15-foot putt to overtake Kocher. But the putt wasn’t to be.
After the final groups failed to match the clubhouse leaders, Kocher and Kosaihira then headed to a playoff, which landed comfortably on Kocher’s lap after Kosaihira lost his ball on the tee shot when it bounced off the cartpath and into the bushes. Kosaihira went on to make a double bogey while Kocher sunk his 10-foot birdie putt, the win coming a little less than a year since he graduated from the University of Maryland, in 2018.
Kocher, who celebrated his 23rd birthday Saturday, was thrilled to win, especially in the way he did. After starting the final round with eight straight pars, Kocher picked up his first birdie on hole 9, which got his momentum going as he played the back nine flawlessly, picking up five more birdies in a bogey-free round.
It was a sensational performance by Kocher, who only earned conditional status at Q-School in February. At the PGA TOUR Series-China’s season-opening event in Chongqing, he progressed through a Monday qualifier and finished third before another top-20 finish last week in Sanya helped him earn his place in this week’s event.
“No more Monsay qualifiers. That’s a huge plus, and I can book my trips and not have to think about coming early for Mondays and it’s a great positive,” said Kocher, who has already exceeded his goals for the year. “It feels awesome. My goal for this year was just to finish in the top 25 and get to second stage (of the Web.comTour Final Qualifying Tournament), so I think this win will give me a huge boost. I can set some new goals.”
Kocher is no stranger to winning golf tournaments. As an amateur, he won the North Carolina Open in both 2016 and 2017 while still enrolled at the University of Maryland and won again on the GPro Tour at Mimosa Hills Country Club after he graduated in 2018. He admits those wins don’t even compare.
“This is definitely the biggest win of my career, and it feels the best. I’m really happy with where my game is at. I’ve been playing well this whole year, so it’s definitely a big confident boost,” said Kocher, who doesn’t have any plans to rest after three consecutive events in China. “I’ll celebrate a little bit tonight and then have an early flight home (to the U.S.) [Monday] morning and then celebrate with friends and family there.”
Singapore’s Quincy Quek, who was playing in the final group, came up one shot short of a playoff after carding a 68 to finish solo third, one stroke ahead of former PGA TOUR player Justin Hicks, who finished strong with a tournament low, 7-under 65. Australia’s James Marchesani shot a 72 to finish fifth, at 7-under, one ahead of three players in a tie for sixth.
Did you know that at the University of Maryland, David Kocher was an All-Big Ten first-team selection in 2016 and a second-team pick in 2015 and 2018? He also became the first Maryland golfer to receive four consecutive individual NCAA invitations and won two tournaments for the Terrapins during his four years in College Park.
- The course this week is a par-72 totaling 7,095 yards.
- David Kocher tied for 18th at last week’s Sanya Championship.
- David Kocher was the only player to shoot three rounds in the 60s this week. In 11 PGA TOUR Series-China rounds, 10 of those have been under-par. Ironically, his only over-par round came this week during his win, a second-round 75. His stroke average this season is 69.09.
- Singapore’s Quincy Quek bouned back nicely after a double bogey on hole 3. He went on to make six birdies to tie for third. This is his first top-10 since he finished seventh at the 2018 Beijing Championship. This also matches his career-best PGA TOUR Series-China performance, when he was solo third at the 2014 Lanhai Open.
- Quincy Quek has played in 32 previous PGA TOUR Series-China events. He played 10 tournaments each in 2014, 2015 and 2018 along with the first two tournaments this season. Quek did not play this Tour at all in 2016.
- This is Yuwa Kosaihira’s third runner-up performance on the Tour. He finished second at the 2018 Yantai Championship and the Zhuhai Championship.
- Australia’s James Marchesani had the overnight lead heading into Sunday. He double-bogeyed hole 16 on his restart and began his final round one shot behind China’s Zheng Ouyang.
- Zheng Ouyang started the final round with a one-shot lead but dropped to T10 after a final round 76.
- Despite no player managing to go bogey-free in the opening three rounds, 10 players were bogey-free in the final round. They were Lloyd Jefferson Go, Trevor Sluman, Bryden Macpherson, Douglas Quinones, Cheng Jin, Kevin Yuan, Luke Kwon, Wenyi Huang, Kevin Lee and Zihao Chen.
- Last week’s Sanya Championship winner Trevor Sluman shot rounds of 73-69-73-69 to finish 4-under for the tournament, good for a tie for 10th.
- Justin Hicks is 44 years old and has played five full seasons on the PGA TOUR and is a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour. This is his first year playing in China.
- Hong Kong’s Shunyat Hak tied for 10th after rounds of 74-72-69-69.
- Taihei Sato, winner of the Chongqing Championship, did not play this week.
- This week, Germany’s Velten Meyer and Kenta Endo (tied for sixth), American Jared Howard (ninth) and the Philippines’ Lloyd Jefferson Go and American Corey Shaun all posted their first career top-10s.
“I was second off the tee, and my playing partner hit it on the stuff on the right and unfortunately he couldn’t find his ball. So, I just tried to hit the first fairway, and I ended up hitting a good layup shot and then hit a pretty solid 9-iron given the circumstances and ended up walking in my last putt, which is pretty cool.” – David Kocher on the playoff hole
“My round today [Sunday] was really good, and my tee shot wasn’t bad in the playoff. I thought it was a pretty good shot, but it hit a cartpath and bounced into the bushes. It was just a little bit right, and I couldn’t find it, so that was very disappointing.” – Yuwa Kosaihira
“I’m still happy to finish second. Of course I would have liked to win, but it was a good week and this finish will help a lot. Hopefully my first win on the PGA TOUR Series-China will come soon.” – Yuwa Kosaihira
“My game is really good. I’ve been playing well for a while now, so [I] just need to keep going. I’m planning to play mostly on this Tour and on the Japan Tour.” – Yuwa Kosaihira
“I think I made quite a few putts this week, so there is definitely a lot of positives to take from it. It’s a pity to come just one stroke short [of a playoff], but nevertheless I’m happy with the result.” – Quincy Quek
“After a shaky first two events, and the passing of a friend, it was tough to come into this week and try to make a good result, so I think I did all right. I’m pretty pleased with it.” – Quincy Quek on the start to his season that included the death of Arie Irawan
“I didn’t really look at the leaderboard until probably the last hole, which I saw out the side of my eye. I could see that the first two red numbers on the board were just a little bit thicker so I figured I needed to get to 10-under.” – Quincy Quek
“After my double [bogey] on hole 3, I just told myself, it’s OK, you’ve still got 15 more holes so just keep going. You never know what can happen, and I came close.” – Quincy Quek
“I think this is an amazing golf course. It’s one of the most memorable ones that has come into my brain that I’ve played, and I’ve played quite a bit of golf. I’ve now played on every continent in the world and am trying to figure out how to play in a few more countries. Just bing able to check the box off with China was certainly another good one to the list.” – Justin Hicks on the course and his season start in China
Tournament Fast Fact
This is the second PGA TOUR Series-China event to take place at Sunac Haikou 3KM Golf Club. In 2018, South Korea’s Todd Baek, at 10-under, won the event, which was reduced to 54 holes due to weather.
Fourth-Round Weather Report
Mostly sunny. High of 89. Wind SE at 8 mph.