Liang wins in dramatic playoff

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-06 15:35
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CHENGDU, China - A jubilant Liang Wenchong Sunday claimed the US$1million Luxehills Chengdu Open after a gripping playoff victory over Korean Kim Hyung-Tae.

Liang wins in dramatic playoff
Liang Wenchong of China reacts to a putt to force a playoff during the final day of the Chengdu Open OneAsia golf tournament at the Luxehills International Country Club on Sunday. [Agencies]

Roared on by huge crowds, the Chinese golfer birdied the first extra hole on the par-five 18th to win at Luxehills International Country Club in the opening event of the OneAsia series season.

It was a wire-to-wire victory for the Chinese No 1 but he was made to work harder than expected after a spirited challenge by Kim.

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Liang, who started the day with a three-shot lead over Kim, shot a three-under 69 while the Korean came in with a 66. They finished tied on 21-under-par 267.

"Wow! What a day. I am drained having led from the first round and then ending up in a playoff. To win in front of my home fans in this manner makes it so special. I am very proud," said Liang.

In a thrilling back nine, Kim caught playing partner Liang when he birdied 11, 12 and 13. However, the Korean missed a short par putt on 15 to give his Chinese opponent a one-shot lead.

More drama unfolded on the penultimate hole when Kim made a birdie two while Liang bogeyed meaning he was a stroke behind playing the last.

Liang responded magnificently by holing a 15-foot birdie putt to force a playoff and send the crowd wild.

On the playoff hole he reached the green in two and hit an amazing lag putt from 60 feet to within a foot. Kim found a green side trap, recovered well but then saw his 20-foot birdie putt lip out.

"The way Kim was playing I really thought I wasn't going to win. On the ninth hole I started getting some doubts and on the 18th I was also worried because I knew he would make an easy par. I have never concentrated so hard as I did over the putt to make a birdie and get into the playoff," said Liang.

In-form Kim won the KEB Invitational two weeks ago in Shanghai and came so close to recording an upset victory.

"My emotions are all over the place. After the 17th I thought I had it. Could have won and should have but it was a great week for me," said the 32-year-old.

Fellow Koreans Kim Do-Hoon and Kang Kyung-Nam ended in joint third place, two off the lead. Kim shot 64 while Kang carded a 66.

Australian Kurt Barnes, who began the day in joint second with Kim Hyung-Tae, closed with a 69 and finished equal fifth with 19-year-old Korean Kim Bio.