ON TONG SIDE OF 50
LI HAOTONG completed a wire-to-wire victory at the BMW International Open but he needed a 50-foot birdie putt at the first play-off hole to seal his first win in more than four years.
The 26-year-old, who missed 14 cuts last year, had led through all three days in Munich and was five strokes ahead after five holes of his final round yesterday.
But he needed birdies at the 16th and 17th to take a one-shot advantage over Belgium’s Thomas Pieters (below) down the last.
When Pieters birdied and Li’s 11-footer to win lipped out, the pair re-played the par-five 18th, where the Chinese (left) twice flirted with the water on his way to the back of the green.
He thinned his chip way past the flag but holed the monster birdie putt back up the hill. When Pieters’ seven-foot attempt to extend the play-off slid past, Li collapsed in tears.
“I don’t have the words to describe how I feel,” said Li, who was ready to quit the sport after slipping down to 542nd in the world last year.
“As soon as I chipped the ball I thought: ‘I just gave another chance away.’ “Ten months ago I decided to quit but I’m somehow where I am now.”