Conor O’Rourke secured a top-10 finish on the MENA Tour as a final round 68 at the Blue Canyon Classic saw him end the week in a share of ninth in Thailand.
The Naas man rounded off his week with a strong back-nine performance at the Lakes Course at Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket, three birdies resulting in a three-under round that saw him finish at 10-under-par for the week.
That was six shots off winner Chen Guxin of China, however, who had a final round to remember as he birdied seven of his final nine holes to come home in 29, with a staggering eight-under 63 earning him a one-shot win at 16-under-par.
But for O’Rourke it is a fine performance that he can take forward, and he will happily take the $1,500 prize money on offer, too, as he continues on the MENA Tour.
He will perhaps be a little frustrated his front nine did not match his back, birdies at the first and ninth cancelled out by bogeys at the fifth and eighth, but that birdie on the ninth was the first of three in a row around the turn, and he would close with another birdie at the 16th.
The day would belong to Guxin, though, who wasn’t even in contention midway through his round as two birdies and a bogey saw him turn in one-under for the day and at nine-under, which was two shots adrift of overnight leader Denwit Boriboonsub who also played his front nine in one-under.
The world No. 484 could yet soar to a career-high OWGR – he has been as low as 435th – and perhaps as high as the fifth-ranked player from China. What is guaranteed is that the US$13,125 payday has propelled the teen to the summit of The ADT Order of Merit with a total of $20,389 through four events.
“This is my first win outside of China which makes me very confident for the future,” Guxin said.
“My big goal is I hope I can get onto the Asian Tour this year. Right now with country exemption, it is hard to get into Asian Tour events but ADT I should be able to play all of it…but I look forward to playing in the bigger tournaments.”
Guxin started out quietly on Sunday, a bogey on the par-3 8th halving the gains he’d made with two earlier birdies. But then something clicked on the 11th and almost without knowing it he had birdied six holes on the trot. As his caddie Adam Wang explained afterwards, just about every shot was perfectly struck from the 11th tee onwards.
“On the 11th, something changed, it made me confident and happy but I still can’t believe I made seven birdies…it was magical,” Guxin said of his lowest round as a professional.
“Whatever distance, I saw it get in the hole”, he added and the Chinese man was untouchable on his back nine, the only two holes he didn’t birdie coming at the 10th and 17th, so good was his scoring, and although Boriboonsub kept pace for most of the way with four birdies of his own, he couldn’t find a fifth in his final three holes to force a play-off.