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Swede dreams for Björk in China

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Alexander Björk claimed his maiden European Tour title in some style at the Volvo China Open, the Swede soaring to a flawless 65 to come through an almighty final round battle at Topwin Golf and Country Club.

It was an exciting final day at the Beijing venue as a plethora of players moved into contention and threatened to take home China’s national open, but as the drama unfolded the 27 year old remained calm and composed throughout to become the first Swedish winner in the 24-year history of the Volvo-sponsored event.

 

27-year-old Björk, who started the round one shot back, rolled in seven birdies for a winning total of 18-under-par 270 and claimed his maiden title on both the Asian Tour and the European Tour in the CN¥20,000,000 (approx. US$3,178,000) event.

A birdie at the opening hole was the first of seven for Björk, who was in contention at last week’s Trophée Hassan II and had challenged for numerous European Tour titles since graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2016, and a seven under final round was enough to see him finish one stroke clear of the pack on 18 under.

Björk endured an anxious wait before his victory was confirmed after overnight co-leaders Matt Wallace of England and Adrian Otaegui of Spain failed to eagle the par-five 18th hole to force a play-off. He took home a winner’s prize purse of CN¥3,333,330 (approx. US$526,400).

Otaegui birdied the last to sign for a second straight 67 and finish in second place on his own. Wallace settled for a 68 following a closing par to share third place with countryman Jordan Smith (64) and Jorge Campillo (67) of Spain on 272.

Ashun Wu produced the shot of the day when his eight-iron tee shot from 158 yards found the bottom of the cup on the par-three 13th hole. It was the third hole-in-one of the week.

Wu, who won the tournament in 2015, signed for an eventual 67 to emerge as the highest-ranked Chinese player in tied-seventh position in the 24th edition of the Volvo China Open, which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the China Golf Association.

Bjork shared after his win, "It’s great to know that I am the first Swede to win the prestigious tournament. It sounds pretty good. I am super happy. I would say the birdie on 17 was good. I knew I had a good chance on 18. I know I will have a good chance if I can make par on 18.

"It’s tough to describe the emotions right now but I am really very happy. I am very proud of myself. The way I played today, it’s probably one of the best rounds of golf that I have ever played.

"I didn’t make any mistakes today. I am super happy. I have been striking the ball so good off the tee and I putted great on the greens as well. It has been so solid. It’s easy to play around when you feel like your swing is there.

"It’s really nice to be working out well for me today since it’s the final round and the pressure comes on. I still hit good shots all the way. I didn’t look at the leaderboard too much on the first nine holes.

"From 12, I knew I was up in the leaderboard and I saw Jordan Smith finished on -16 so I knew I had to make birdies coming down the stretch. That helped me to stay positive and give me the strength to make birdies instead of trying to play safe.

"That was important for me to try and make birdies. I had mixed feelings on the last. I was happy with the par save but obviously I would want to finish with a birdie. It’s a tough hole to make an eagle on the last as well. I thought I had a pretty good chance but you never know.

"You never think you were going to win. You hope it will happen. I had a really good feeling this morning actually. I was less nervous than how I would usually be before the final round. I guess it was meant to be today. I missed out on the win in Hong Kong earlier this season. I had a bad finish. It was my turn to win today so I am very happy."

Scores

270 - Alexander BJORK (SWE) 66-72-67-65.

271 - Adrian OTAEGUI (ESP) 68-69-67-67.

272 - Jordan SMITH (ENG) 69-69-70-64, Jorge CAMPILLO (ESP) 69-68-68-67, Matt WALLACE (ENG) 65-70-69-68.

273 - Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN) 70-73-66-64.

274 - Ashun WU (CHN) 70-71-66-67, Jeunghun WANG (KOR) 72-66-68-68, Paul DUNNE (IRL) 71-68-67-68, Jinho CHOI (KOR) 69-72-65-68.

275 - Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 66-74-68-67, Sihwan KIM (USA) 70-66-70-69, Andrea PAVAN (ITA) 68-72-66-69.

276 - Daxing JIN (CHN) 64-76-69-67, Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 69-72-68-67, Mikko ILONEN (FIN) 71-70-67-68, Soomin LEE (KOR) 68-69-70-69, Alexander LEVY (FRA) 69-73-65-69, Nacho ELVIRA (ESP) 69-67-70-70.

277 - Aaron RAI (ENG) 73-70-68-66, Ashley CHESTERS (ENG) 72-68-68-69, Jason SCRIVENER (AUS) 67-69-71-70, Matteo MANASSERO (ITA) 72-68-67-70, Julien GUERRIER (FRA) 68-69-68-72.

278 - Keith HORNE (RSA) 69-74-68-67, Joost LUITEN (NED) 70-69-70-69.270 - Alexander BJORK (SWE) 66-72-67-65.