Australian Brett Rumford has stormed to his second title in as many weeks after claiming the $3.2million Volvo China Open.
The West Australian fired a final round 68 to ease to a four-shot victory at the Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club just days after winning the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea last week.
His success has sent his world ranking rocketing from from 253 to the mid 80s and boosted his bank balance by more than $1million.
The 37-year-old finished at 16 under par, with Finland’s Mikko Ilonen alone in second place and Frenchman Victor Dubuisson third.
"It’s surreal," Rumford said. "I’m more than pleased, but its not my doing completely – I have a great team around me."
Rumford started the day a shot ahead of playing partner Ilonen, and the pair fought for an edge until the 12th when he collected three birdies in succession while Ilonen slipped with two bogeys which effectively ended his bid.
"The one on the 12th, well that was one of the best shots of my career," said Rumford, of the tricky up-and-down he had to pull off from the edge of a bunker.
Rumford’s success in Korea was a hard-fought battle but seems to have hardened him for the China Open.
The Australian snapped a six-year winning drought in Korea but had to clamber his way to the trophy through a three-way playoff which he forced his way into after a birdie on the last following a 17th hole double bogey.
By contrast he played calmly and consistently in China, building confidence heading through the back nine as he watched his Finnish opponent struggle.
"Mikko certainly put the pressure on me through the turn there, and obviously he was driving well … but it’s amazing this game, how quickly it can turn," Rumford said.
"Last week on 17 it turned for the worst and here, in the space of just three or four holes, all I had to do was finish it off."
China’s burgeoning group of young prodigies continued to showcase what could become an important trend in golf around the world in the very near future during their home event.
Teenager Dou Zecheng put in another credible effort with a 73 that saw him finish the tournament in the middle of the field at one under par — the same as defending champion Branden Grace.
The 16-year-old amateur qualifier, the youngest player ever to make the cut in the tournament’s 19-year-history, immediately set his sights on even greater glory.
"I want more … I want to play in Majors," he said, three weeks after 14-year-old compatriot Guan Tianlang stunned the golf world by making the cut at the US masters.
On Thursday another qualifier, 12-year-old Ye Wocheng, became the youngest player ever to start a European Tour or OneAsia event – breaking Guan’s record set last year when he was 13. Ye missed the cut by 14 after shooting a pair of 79s.
OneAsia moves to Korea next week for a two-week swing starting with the GS Caltex Maekyung Open at Namseoul Country Club from May 9 – 12, followed by the SK Telecom Open at Pinx Golf Club from 16 – 19.
By: Robert Grant