Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung wins three-way playoff at Kunming Championship

Posted: Tuesday, 19 Jun 2018

Motin Yeung became the first Hong Kong player to win a PGA TOUR Series-China title when he triumphed in a three-way playoff at the RMB 1.5 million Kunming Championship, the sixth event of this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China.

Yeung, 24, sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole to deny Callum Tarren, who led after the first two rounds and was hoping to become the Tour’s first English winner, and American Joseph Gunerman, the joint 54-hole leader with Canada’s Richard Jung.

Yeung and Tarren, 27, played in the penultimate group and both shot 6-under 65 to set the clubhouse lead at 19-under. Gunerman, 25, then joined the pair with a 67 that featured an eagle at the par-5 16th.

American Charlie Saxon, the Order of Merit leader, and Japan’s Taihei Sato each shot 63 to tie for fourth at 18-under, one ahead of Singapore’s Quincy Quek (62) and Australia’s Deyen Lawson (66). Australia’s Max McCardle (68), New Zealand’s Luke Toomey (62) and Italy’s Aron Zemmer (65) were eighth at 16-under, one stroke ahead of Singapore’s Jesse Yap (66).

Yeung, 24, was thrilled to win with his girlfriend and friends in the stands, having secured his place in the playoff with a third successive 65. After failing to record a birdie in his first 12 holes on Thursday, he birdied 27 of his last 60 holes in regulation – plus the first extra hole.

It was a sensational performance by Yeung, who didn’t earn any status at Q-School in February. In March, he progressed through a Monday qualifier at the Tour’s second event, finishing joint-14th in Chongqing before two more top-20 finishes helped him earn his place in four straight events.

“This means so much to me because I didn’t even have any status on this Tour before this and now I’m finally a member so it feels amazing,” said an emotional Yeung, who was competing in Kunming on a sponsor invite and now has a full card through next year because of the victory.

Born and raised in Beijing, Yeung moved to Orlando in 2006 when he was 12 before playing college golf at Duke University from 2012 to 2016.

Since turning pro in September 2016, Yeung has not won a tournament and his previous best result on this year’s Tour was a tie for sixth at last month’s Haikou Championship, but he kept his cool in the playoff to beat two more seasoned pros.

“I said I want to hit driver and go for it, but then I saw Gunerman hit the ball OB (out of bounds). The wind was going right to left, so I decided to just play smart because Callum was on the fairway already. I decided I was just going to have a wedge competition with him,” said Yeung, who hit his second shot to 10 feet before celebrating wildly after holing his putt.

“I missed a lot of short putts and putting wasn’t my strength this week, so I was a little nervous. I just aimed where I think I needed to aim and hit the putt. I tried not to think too much.”

Gunerman, 25, was bogey free for his last three rounds plus the last four holes on the first day, and said he was happy with his final 18 holes in regulation, which included two birdies and an eagle.

“Today was my third consecutive day with no bogeys so I played really well, but I was just a couple of putts short out there. I’m proud of the way I played, I have no complaints,” said Gunerman.

“In the playoff, it was the same winds in the practice round where I hit a driver to 8 feet, so I told myself it would be a great win for me if I could knock the driver on the green and put tons of pressure on the other guys. I didn’t pull it off, but I played to win and you don’t always pull it off. I wouldn’t do it any different; I always play to win.”

After a ‘disappointing’ third round, Tarren carded a bogey-free round that featured six birdies, including four in a row from No. 11, before finishing runner-up for the second time this season and for the fifth time on the Tour.

“I’m upset not to get the win, but I’m going to keep knocking on the door,” said Tarren, who, like Gunerman, started competing on the Tour in 2016.

Every tournament on this year’s PGA TOUR Series-China offers RMB 1.5 million, a 25-percent increase over purse levels from 2016.

Photo credit: PGA TOUR Series-China / Zhuang Liu

News source: PGATourChina