Scintillating finish for eagle-eyed Voke
New Zealand’s Nick Voke eagled No 17 on his way to a closing 5-under 66 and a twostroke victory at the Macao Championship on Sunday, becoming the PGA Tour Series-China’s first back-toback winner since China’s “Marty” Dou Zecheng achieved the feat in 2016.
Playing in the penultimate group, the 23-year-old Voke parred the final hole at Caesars Golf Club to finish 15-under, two ahead Trevor Sluman of the US (67).
China’s “Carl” Yuan Yechun, 21, shot 70 to share third at 12-under alongside Americans Ryann Ree (70) and Jeffrey Kang (67).
Tour debutant Luke Kwon of South Korea (67) and Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira (71) were next, followed by England’s Callum Tarren, second on the order of merit, who carded a 68 to take eighth with India’s Rigel Fernandes.
Voke tied for fourth in his tour debut at the Suzhou Open in early September and won the Qinhuangdao Championship the following week before finishing third at an Asian Tour event in South Korea.
Voke, who practiced for a week in Thailand before traveling to Macao, started the final round three shots back of co-leaders Joseph Winslow and Todd Baek. He fired three birdies and two pars on the front nine before closing with birdies on 13 and 15 ahead of his stunning eagle on 17.
“It was a big day out there. On the front nine, I didn’t quite have it and I was hitting some below-average approach shots,” said Voke, who was tied for the lead before his eagle gave him a two-stroke buffer.
“Fortunately, I hit it really close on No 9 and made the turn at one under. I really wanted to get some momentum on the back nine, and on 17 I had 241 yards left to the flag. I only wanted to hit it about 230, but I pulled it slightly and the ball landed about 29 feet from the flag.
“Walking up there I knew a two-putt would be huge. I just hit a good putt with good speed and it managed to find its way to the cup.”
The methodical Voke, who is 17th on this year’s PGA Tour of Australia order of merit, credits his current form to a concerted effort to improve both his driving and putting.
“I know what I need to do to play well. I know if I play this course 100 times, my scoring will be at its best if I play in a certain way. So I stuck to my strategy and I think I got a few lucky breaks. You need that to win.”
“I made a really good birdie on the 15th hole and then on the 17th fairway, I thought a birdie would put me in a tie for the lead and I managed to roll in the putt for eagle. I thought I was one ahead going into the last and then I just secured a really solid par, so I was over the moon.”
Sluman, 25, was delighted after securing his highest finish in his first year on the tour.
The American had two bogeys and three birdies on the front nine before picking up three straight birdies from 13-15.
“I managed to get it back to even-par after seven holes, and birdied nine. I then went on a little run on the back nine and made some birdies, so 4-under was a pretty nice way to finish,” said Sluman.
“This definitely changes the mindset going into the next two events. The whole goal from the beginning of the year was to get into the top 10 and go to the final stage (of Web.com Tour qualifying), so I’m really excited for the next events in Zhuhai and Hong Kong.”