Thailand’s Sarit Suwannarut shot a fearless final round eight-under-par 64 to win the Volvo China Open at Hidden Grace Golf Club today by the runaway margin of six-shots, to claim his second title on the Asian Tour, and put him behind a surprisingly poor season.
A fine four-round aggregate of 19-under-par 269, saw him finish comfortably ahead of second placed Taichi Kho from Hong Kong, who sensationally chipped in for an eagle on the 18th for a 65, and Chinese youngster Chen Guxin, the third-round leader in with a 73.
Spaniard Eugenio Chacarra, the leader at the halfway mark, fired a 68 to finish in outright fourth, a further shot back, in the US$1.5 million event being played on the Asian Tour for the first time since 2019, and part of The International Series.
Sarit’s nickname is ‘Safe’ but he was far from that today as he attacked the course from the start with a new found confidence that has been missing for the whole season.
The 25-year-old started the day three back from Chen. However, he quickly caught his Chinese playing partner with three birdies on the trot from the second and overtook him when he made another birdie on seven – a pivotal hole as Chen made a double. It meant Sarit had a three-shot lead.
By the turn he was two in front before a birdie on the 12th gave him a commanding four-shot buffer as Chen bogeyed the hole. He then cruised home for the win unchallenged with birdies on 14, and the final two holes.
After winning the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE at the end of last year, also an International Series event, Sarit was expected to achieve further success, but he struggled this season, recording just one top-10 in the Mandiri Indonesia Open and missing six cuts in 13 starts before this week.
Yesterday he credited a week’s holiday in Japan with his family before coming here and deciding to go back to using the putter he used when he triumphed in Indonesia for his return to form.
“To be honest I just wanted to come here and have fun,” said Sarit.
“I wanted to find something this week because it has been a tough year. It has been a really tough year. I have missed a lot of cuts. I didn’t finish good at all but … it happens. My iron game and my putting were the problem, especially the putting. My putting this week was lights out, it’s insane. Feel like I saw every line, saw how to putt, saw everything.”
He earned a check for US$270,0000 and becomes the second Thai to win China’s national Open, after Prayad Marksaeng in 1996.
The big-hitting golfer also leapt from 85th to 12th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM).
Kho chipped in from 20 yards on the driveable par-four 18th for a two to record yet another impressive finish to build on his phenomenal season.
He said: “Walking up to that chip I was saying to my caddie that I have to do a better job with my short game; to just trust it and let go. I was able to let go on the chip, it was a really good chip, it looked good all the way and I was really happy to cap off the week like that.
“I think big picture that is what I’m working on, being able to let go and trust my visuals and instincts. I feel that will take me to the next level, I’m really happy with how I was willing to do that today – to let go and see what happens rather than try to hold on and grind.”
Chen was bidding the become the seventh Chinese winner of the Volvo China Open and at just 20 years of age, it’s youngest. He will be grateful to finish third as he bids to keep his Asian Tour card for next year. He’s now moved into 40th place on the Asian Tour OOM from 115th place, with four events remaining.
The top-65 retain their playing privileges.
“I have a peaceful mind as 73 was my aim to be honest,” said Chen, who won twice on the Asian Development Tour last year and calls himself ‘Mr 54’ as he has struggled to finish off tournament on the final day.
“I think it adds to my experience. The putting of Sarit was really extraordinary, he can hole everything. He played very well. By contrast, I just play badly, but I need to learn how to play well in the final round.”
American Andy Ogletree had a chance to wrap up The International Series Order of Merit today with two International Series events remaining. He needed to finish in outright third or better, but he closed with a 69 to finish in a tie for seventh.
The Asian Tour crosses the border next week for the Hong Kong Open, where Ogletree is most likely to secure The International Series merit title. The US$2 million event, which is the penultimate stop on The International Series, is being played at the Hong Kong Golf Club from November 9-12.
Australian Wade Ormsby returns to defend the title he won in 2020, the last time the celebrated event was played before the COVID-19 global pandemic struck.
Scores after round 4 of the Volvo China Open 2023 being played at the par 72, 7145 Yards Hidden Grace GC course (am – denotes amateur):
269 – Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 70-70-65-64.
275 – Taichi Kho (HKG) 71-69-70-65, Chen Guxin (CHN) 68-68-66-73.
276 – Eugenio Chacarra (ESP) 67-68-73-68.
277 – Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 71-70-72-64, Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-70-72-67.
278 – Andy Ogletree (USA) 68-69-72-69, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 68-71-70-69, Ding Wenyi (am, CHN) 70-68-67-73.
279 – Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 75-67-66-71.
280 – Jack Thompson (AUS) 67-70-72-71, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 72-72-65-71.
281 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 70-70-72-69, Ben Leong (MAS) 66-76-70-69, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 70-73-67-71, Graeme McDowell (NIR) 72-68-70-71, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 67-74-69-71, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 70-69-69-73.
282 – Settee Prakongvech (THA) 67-73-73-69, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 69-70-73-70, Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 71-69-72-70, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 72-72-71-67, Ben Campbell (NZL) 69-70-72-71, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 68-72-70-72.
283 – Angelo Que (PHI) 72-68-73-70, Sangmoon Bae (KOR) 70-73-71-69, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 72-72-70-69, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 68-75-69-71, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 71-72-69-71, Scott Hend (AUS) 75-69-71-68, Berry Henson (USA) 72-66-70-75.
284 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 73-68-72-71, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 69-74-70-71, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 69-72-73-70, Poom Saksansin (THA) 72-71-71-70, Paul Peterson (USA) 68-69-75-72, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 76-68-70-70, Taehee Lee (KOR) 73-68-71-72, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-69-76-69, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 70-71-71-72, Danthai Boonma (THA) 73-71-71-69.
285 – Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 74-69-70-72, Kento Nakai (JPN) 68-71-70-76, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 71-73-75-66, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 74-68-67-76.
286 – Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 67-75-71-73, Zhang Huilin (CHN) 67-69-75-75, Yonggu Shin (CAN) 73-71-71-71, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 69-72-76-69.
287 – Doyeob Mun (KOR) 68-73-72-74, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 74-70-70-73, Douglas Klein (AUS) 70-72-75-70.
288 – Travis Smyth (AUS) 74-69-71-74.
289 – Gordan Brixi (CZE) 70-71-76-72, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 70-73-74-72, John Lyras (AUS) 72-69-67-81.
290 – Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 71-67-76-76, Yang Yinong (CHN) 70-73-74-73.
291 – Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN) 68-73-72-78, Zhao Xingyu (CHN) 72-72-73-74.
292 – Jin Daxing (CHN) 68-75-73-76.
293 – Huang Zijie (CHN) 69-73-81-70.
294 – Justin Quiban (PHI) 72-71-72-79.
295 – Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 68-74-77-76, Michael Maguire (USA) 69-74-76-76, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 70-74-76-75.
299 – Wu Di (CHN) 69-72-74-84.
301 – Zhuang Zhu (CHN) 71-72-81-77.