Scin­til­lat­ing fin­ish for ea­gle-eyed Voke

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Holiday - By CHINA DAILY

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 Tour qual­i­fy­ing), so I’m re­ally ex­cited for the next events in Zhuhai and Hong Kong.”

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