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China Daily Global / 2021-05 / 04 / Page012

Bobby boosted by Alabama birdie blitz

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-05-04 00:00

China's Bobby Bai Zhengkai notched his first top-10 finish on the Korn Ferry Tour at the Huntsville Championship in Alabama on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Bai closed out a stellar week with a final-round 67 for a 12-under 268 total to finish sixth, three shots behind winner Paul Barjon, who triumphed in a three-way playoff on The Ledges course.

Bai's compatriot Carl Yuan Yechun settled for a share of 16th place on 273 after closing with a 69, while Marty Dou Zecheng missed the halfway cut.

Since making his debut on the Korn Ferry Tour, Bai, who hails from Shantou, Guangdong province, has taken time to establish himself in the US. In 19 starts prior to the Huntsville Championship, he missed 12 cuts, including the last two tournaments.

He credited the hours spent practicing his putting recently for his solid week.

"I put in a lot of work on my putting over the two weeks before this tournament so I am so glad I made the top 10," said Bai.

"This result will help me play in more events in the coming weeks. I hope to maintain my good form for next week."

He birdied holes 2, 3, 6, 8 and 10 against two bogeys, and ranked tied-third for Total Birdies made for the tournament, with 21. Bai also ranked tied-eighth in Putts per Green in Regulation, and he hopes his flat stick will remain hot in the hope of making a late charge for a PGA Tour card.

Bai's breakthrough moved him up to 119th on the Korn Ferry Tour points list, with the top 25 earning PGA Tour cards at the end of the regular season in August. Another 25 cards will be up for grabs in the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

Bai has shown glimpses of his potential with one win on the PGA Tour Series China in 2019, the same year he became the first China mainland player to triumph on the European Challenge Tour when he won the Foshan Open.

He moved to the US when he was in 11th grade and attended the University of Central Florida. Bai hopes his good week will help create some momentum as the Korn Ferry Tour heads to the Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation in Tennessee this week.

"I am doing well. My long irons have been good this year and my putting has improved a lot," he said.

Yuan enhanced his hopes of challenging for a PGA Tour card with rounds of 64, 70, 70 and 69 for his sixth top-25 finish of the 2020-21 wraparound season.

He made four birdies against three bogeys and moved up to 41st place on the tour's points list.

Dou slipped two rungs to 34th in the rankings following his eighth missed cut.

Positive Lin

Meanwhile in Singapore, third-round leader Lin Xiyu of China failed to stop the all-mighty South Korean challenge in the final round of the LPGA's HSBC Women's World Championship on Sunday.

Leading a shot going into the final day, Lin and South Korea's world No 2 Park In-bee both had 70s to finish two strokes behind winner Kim Hyo-joo, also of South Korea.

Lin, Park and Patty Tavatanakit, of Thailand, were tied for third place, a shot behind second-place Hannah Green from Australia.

After narrowly missing out on her first title, Lin was keeping things in perspective.

"Right now I'm definitely a little sad but overall if I really just calm down and think through this week, I'm very grateful for what I've done," she said.

"If you told me at the beginning of the week, like I'm going to do that well, like finish top three, I'll be like, 'Are you kidding?'"

Kim shot a final-round 8-under 64 and then watched from the comfort of the clubhouse as Green bogeyed her final two holes to hand her a one-stroke victory.

It was Kim's fourth career LPGA win and her first since 2016. Her maiden win was in the 2014 Evian Championship.


Bobby Bai Zhengkai tees off during the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour Huntsville Championship at The Ledges in Huntsville, Alabama on Sunday. GETTY IMAGES



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