Li putts doubts behind him with emotional win

CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-06-28 09:25
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Li Haotong is overcome with emotion after victory in Munich on Sunday-his first triumph in four years. GETTY IMAGES

Playoff drama

After following up his sensational opening-round 62 with 67s on Friday and Saturday, Li took a three-stroke lead over Pieters into Sunday's final round.

The overnight leader made a dream start with three birdies in his first five holes to extend his advantage to five.

But four bogeys and a solitary birdie in his next 10 holes opened the door for the chasing pack and he was joined at the top of the leaderboard with three to play.

Li, though, made birdies at the 16th and 17th to regain a one-shot lead heading down the last.

But his birdie putt on the 18th green lipped out, and with Pieters safely securing his birdie, the contest had to be decided by a playoff.

The Chinese player approached the first playoff green well, but then a heavy-handed chip left him in trouble after Pieters had successfully come out of a bunker. Li then stunned the enthralled crowd by finding the hole with a monster putt from 50 feet (15 meters) and roared in delight when Pieters was unable to extend the playoff.

"Thomas played great all day. My putter wasn't as hot as yesterday. Golf, this is golf," said Li, reflecting on the dramatic ending. "Sometimes things go your way, sometimes not. I'm just so happy to finish on 18 like that.

"Somehow I thought that I would make that putt (in the playoff ). I don't know how I made that stroke, how the ball went in the hole, because at the end of the day the greens were very bumpy. You just never know."

The win earned Li 340,000 euros (roughly $359,000) in prize money and a spot at next month's British Open at St Andrews in Scotland.

The Munich tournament took place amid the ongoing tension over players signing with the rival Saudi-backed LIV series.

Ten golfers who played the first LIV event were in the Munich field.

Unlike the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour stopped short of issuing indefinite suspensions from all its competitions even if players took part in the inaugural LIV tournament in England earlier this month. However, it did issue fines and suspended them from three tournaments co-sanctioned with the PGA.

Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer of Germany said the DP World Tour's warning of future punishment won't stop him playing in more LIV tournaments.

"I'll play all of the LIV tournaments until the end of the year and let's see how the sanctions look again after that," Kaymer told Germany's dpa agency. "You don't like to get some kind of sanctions each week because you've played a tournament somewhere else."

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