NANTONG, China(May 26 , 2019)—With rain pouring down, Kevin Techakanokboon made an eight-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole of a playoff to defeat Stephen Lewton and win the Nantong Championship. Techakanokboon began the day a stroke behind 54-hole leader Max McGreevy and turned in a stellar final day, shooting a Sunday 67 at Nantong Yangtze River Golf Club. But a disappointing bogey on his last hole of regulation made Techakanokboon work a little harder for his second Tour title that goes with his 2018 Zhuhai Championship triumph.
To get to the playoff, a lot of action took place on the 72nd hole of the tournament. On the tee, Techakanokboon held a one-shot lead over McGreevy and a two-shot advantage on Lewton. But Lewton gave himself a chance by sinking a 38-foot birdie putt to move to 17-under. Techakanokboon faced an eight-foot par putt that would have given him the win, but he missed, a bogey that dropped him to 17-under. McGreevy couldn’t join the playoff when he bogeyed the 18th. He finished third, at 16-under.
In the playoff, both contested on the course’s 18th hole, Techakanokboon and Lewton parred the first extra hole, with Techakanokboon prevailing on his third playing of the 18th hole in the previous 45 minutes when Lewton couldn’t make his 30-foot birdie effort.
“I’m pretty pleased. You can’t be too mad about it,” a smiling Techakanokboon said. “I just wanted to come out and play well. I didn’t have expectations or anything. There are a lot of positives to this one.”
For all of Sunday, it was essentially a three-player race between Techakanokboon, McGreevy and Lewton. Through 10 holes, McGreevy held a one-shot lead over Techakanokboon—three clear of Lewton. His lead could have been more, but McGreevy missed a four-foot birdie putt at No. 10.
Techakanokboon finally drew even with McGreevy when he birdied 13, the duo sharing a one-stroke lead over Lewton. All three stayed that way until No. 16 when Techakanokboon pulled ahead with an easy tap-in birdie at the par-3, almost making a hole-in-one. Lewton, too, birdied the hole to move to 17-under and a tie with McGreevy. Lewton dropped a shot at the 17th before his final-hole heroics. The short miss at No. 10 typified McGreevy’s back-nine putting. He missed several birdie chances coming in but none more painful than the three-and-a-half footer he couldn’t sink on 18 that would have given him a spot in the playoff.
Techakanokboon improved to No. 3 on the Order of Merit through six events, positioning himself nicely for the second half of the season. It’s also been a steady climb in the Official World Golf Ranking for Techakanokboon, a California native who splits his time between the Golden State and his parents’ birthplace of Thailand. He fell as low as No. 2,056 in the world before winning in Zhuhai seven months ago, a victory that improved his standing to No. 895. He entered this week at his high-water mark of No. 761.
Did you know that counting his victory at the 2018 Zhuhai Championship, Kevin Techakanokboon is a combined 55-under during his last eight PGA TOUR Series-China tournaments?
As a bit of consolation for Max McGreevy, who couldn’t turn his 54-hole lead into a win, he took over the No. 1 spot on the Order of Merit with his third-place finish. McGreevy displaced David Kocher, who dropped into the second slot. McGreevy leads Kocher by ￥10,5232, and Kocher leads Kevin Techakanokboon by ￥149.
Order of Merit Standings
|1||Max McGreevy (U.S.)||￥448,323|
|2||David Kocher (U.S.)||￥437,800|
|3||Kevin Techakanokboon (U.S.)||￥437,651|
|4||Trevor Sluman (Australia)||￥399,909|
|5||Luke Kwon (South Korea)||￥393,493|
|6||Taihei Sato (Japan)||￥348,891|
|7||Stephen Lewton (England)||￥318,040|
|8||Richard Jung (Canada)||￥293,991|
|9||Yuwa Kosaihira (Japan)||￥259,337|
|10||Ryann Ree (U.S.)||￥241,771|
- This was the third playoff of 2019 and the 10th overtime session in Series history. Taihei Sato won the first playoff of the year when he took down Yanwei Liu on the third extra hole at the Chongqing Championship. David Kocher defeated Yuwa Kosaihira on the first playoff hole at the Haikou Championship.
- Stephen Lewton’s 66 was the low round of the day. Despite numerous close calls, Lewton’s being the latest bid, no player from England has won a PGA TOUR Series-China event. At 36 years, 21 days, Lewton was also looking at being the oldest player to win on Tour since David McKenzie, at 47 years, 1 month, 19 days, won the 2014 Cadillac Championship).
- Max McGreevy was hoping to become the second consecutive University of Oklahoma player to win on PGA TOUR Series-China, joining Luke Kwon, who won last week’s Qinhuangdao Championship. Former Sooner Charlie Saxon won four Series events between 2016 and 2018 and is tied with China’s Zecheng Dou for the most victories in Tour history.
- With heavy rain and difficult conditions for most of the day, there were only five rounds in the 60s Sunday vs. 16 sub-70 scores in the third round.
- China’s Yanzhang Wang finished as the tournament’s low amateur, closing the tournament at 2-under, good for a tie for 24th with Canadian Stuart Macdonald, Japan’s Ryonsuke Seki and Hong Kong’ Shunyat Hak
- Amateur Enqi Liang endured a difficult day, shooting a final-round, 13-over 85 after firing a 69 in the third round. Liang had four holes of double bogey or worse. He tied for 62nd.
- In only his third career start, American Andrew Hudson tied for sixth, at 9-under. The 2018 graduate of the University of North Texas opened and closed with a pair of 3-under 69s.
- Brad Gehl turned his opening, 9-under 63 into his second top-10 since joining PGA TOUR Series-China earlier this year. He tied for fourth with Michael Perras.
- Max McGreevy was the only player in the field to shoot four rounds in the 60s this week (67-67-69-69).
- China’s Guozhen Xu was the low Chinese finisher. He shot a 2-over 74 Sunday and ended the week in 17th place, at 6-under.
- With his victory, Kevin Techakanokboon became the 14th PGA TOUR Series-China player with multiple victories. Techakanokboon won his first title at the 2018 Zhuhai Championship. The other multiple-tournament winners (with their victory totals in parentheses): Todd Baek (two), Gunn Charoenkul (two), Zecheng Dou (four), Josh Geary (three), Richard Jung (two), Taewoo Kim (two), Haotong Li (three), Bryden Macpherson (two), David McKenzie (two), Charlie Saxon (four), Nick Voke (three), Huilin Zhang (two) and Xinjun Zhang (two).
“I thought I was OK going to the last hole (of regulation), but that’s not an easy finishing hole.” –Kevin Techakanokboon
“Stephen made a great birdie, and I knew I at least needed par to win it.” –Kevin Techakanokboon
“I thought I hit a decent putt, but the par putt didn’t go in.” –Kevin Techakanokboon
“I was just grateful to get it done in the playoff and get out of here.” –Kevin Techakanokboon
Tournament Fast Fact
This is the sixth tournament of the season. Following the completion of the Nantong Championship, PGA TOUR Series-China will observe a two-week break before playing back-to-back tournaments—the Suzhou Open (June 10-16) and the Huangshan Championship (June 17-23).
Fourth-Round Weather Report
Rainy and cool all day. Officials halted play at 8:36 because of heavy rain and a dangerous weather condition. Play resumed at 11:45, for a total delay of 3:09. High of 74. Wind S at 8-15 mph.