An emotional Scott Strange shot a closing 68 for a one-stroke victory over Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano at the Volvo China Open yesterday.
The Australian began the final round four off the pace but birdies at the fifth and eighth saw him move into contention on a congested leaderboard.
A par putt at the 12th slid by the hole but it proved a temporary setback as birdies at the 14th and 15th were followed by another at the 17th which earned him victory in the European Tour and OneAsia Tour co-sanctioned event.
Fernandez-Castano birdied the par-five last for a 72 and his second straight runner-up finish after losing a play-off in the Estoril Open in Portugal.
Englishman Richard Finch, the third-round leader, closed with a 74 to finish on six-under, level with Australian Ashley Hall (71) and New Zealander Mark Brown (69), both of whom had posted a course-record 65 in the third round.
Strange’s sister passed away from cancer last June after his wire-to-wire win in the Wales Open and the 32-year-old welled up in the scorer’s tent here once he realized he had secured victory.
“The win in Wales meant a lot because of what I was going through with my family and my sister,” he said. “This is just as special as Wales. If my sister was here now, I’m sure she would be proud of me.”
“I’m delighted. I had a break of about six weeks before this, so I came refreshed and hungry to play,” said Strange, who earned a spot in September’s Volvo World Match Play Championship.
Strange paid tribute to other players who managed to get the best of the testing course, which featured true but tricky greens, and required patience more than aggression.
“There are players like Mark Brown who went from almost missing the cut to finishing third, but not many players could shoot low scores for four days,” he said.
Brown had a rollercoaster final day, picking up four birdies on the front nine, racked up two bogeys and a double in the next five holes, then birdied three of the last four.