Sweden’s Alexander Bjork won the RMB 20 million Volvo China Open and the first European Tour title of his career playing the “best round of my life” at Beijing Huairou Topwin Golf and Country Club.
The 27-year old – the first Swedish winner in the event’s 24-year history – carded a flawless final round 65 (-7) to finish on 18-under par, one shot ahead of Spain’s Adrian Otaegui in second on -17. English pair Jordan Smith (64) and Matt Wallace (68), along with Spaniard Jorge Campillo (67), finished in a tie for third on -16.
“It’s hard to describe my emotions – I’m just really happy and so proud of the way I handled myself,” said Bjork, following a round that contained seven birdies and no dropped shots.
“It’s the best round I’ve ever played considering the situation. I pretty much made no mistakes so I’m super happy. I’ve been striking the ball so well all week, it’s almost easy to play when you feel like the swing is there – and it’s important it was there again today when the pressure was really on.”
That pressure included a dogged fight-back from overnight co-leaders Otaegui and Wallace who could have forced a play-off had both managed an eagle on the 18th. But with the Spaniard only able to make birdie and Wallace forced to settle for par, the Volvo China Open Scandinavian Horizon trophy was Sweden-bound for the very first time.
“I didn’t notice the leaderboard too much on the front nine but when I did look and saw that guys were out in front on -16, I knew I had to get birdies on the way in,” added Bjork. “That kept me focused and I knew what I had to do.
“You never ‘think’ you are going to win – you hope of course – but I had a really good feeling this morning. I was less nervous than usual going into a final round while contending and felt confident throughout the round so maybe today was meant to be. I’m just happy, really happy that it’s my turn to win.”
The Swede, who also collected a cheque for RMB 3.333 million, had seen the lead change hands throughout the day with Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard the first in the clubhouse on -15 after a brilliant 64 (-8), just minutes before England’s Jordan Smith set the new tournament target of -16 thanks to another blemish-free 64 that featured eight birdies.
That left Bjork, Otaegui and Wallace to fight it out and when the Swede made a superb birdie on the 17th coupled with Otaegui’s bogey on the same hole, Bjork was firmly in the driving seat – a position he maintained to the end.
Elsewhere Chinese fans were fired up thanks to a late charge by 2015 Volvo China Open champion Ashun Wu who picked up four shots in three successive holes, including a hole-in-one on the 177-yard 13th. Wu’s final round 67 (-5) was good enough to give him a total of -14 and a share of seventh place.
Defending champion Alexander Levy started three off the lead and collected two birdies on the second and sixth holes to boost his chances of becoming the first three-time winner of the event. But the Frenchman couldn’t maintain a challenge going on to finish on -12 after a round of 69 (-3), six shots behind the winner in a tie for 14th.
While Wu took the honours as the best-placed Chinese player in a tournament that is tri-sanctioned by the China Golf Association, the European Tour and the Asian Tour, six home-grown players made it through all four rounds – day one leader Daxing Jin finished on -12 (T14th), while 2016 champion Haotong Li finished on -8 (T32nd), Hongfu Wu on -7 (T37th), Yanwei Liu on level par (T66th) and Xuewen Luo on eight over par (69th)
Final Standings 2018 Volvo China Open
270 (-18) Bjork (SWE)
271 (-17) Otaegui (ESP)
272 (-16) Smith (ENG), Campillo (ESP), Wallace (ENG)
273 (-15) Bjerregaard (DEN)
274 (-14) Wu (CHN), Wang (KOR), Choi (KOR), Dunne (IRE),