Like so many players, Chen Guxin overtly idolises Tiger Woods. Even his email address references the GOAT and golf stardom.
The 18-year-old from Hunan province isn’t China’s best golfer yet, much less in the same stratosphere as the 15-time major champion but he is well and truly on his way to rock star golf status in the People’s Republic and perhaps even beyond.
Guxin produced a stunning back-nine charge with seven birdies in his last eight holes to snatch the $75,000 Blue Canyon Classic from overnight leader Denwit Boriboonsub on Sunday – and a little more limelight in his homeland.
An eventual eight-under 63 helped Guxin, who started the final round two shots back and in the third from last group, set the clubhouse target at -16. That proved a bar set just a stroke too high for Boriboonsub who finished with a solid 66 but watched an eight-foot birdie attempt on the 54th and final hole agonisingly burn the cup and with it extinguish his chance at a playoff.
It was Guxin’s maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) and MENA Tour victory and a third pro win after a purple patch last June saw him win twice on the China Tour, at the Lanhi Classic and Xian Classic.
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.”
You had to feel for Boriboonsub. The Thai, also only 18, is a star in waiting as illustrated by his runner-up finish and near $75,000 payday at last December’s Laguna Phuket Championship on the main tour.
Unusually calm under pressure, he flat-lined his way to six birdies. He will, of course, rue a bogey on the 5th but perhaps not as much as not knowing where he stood on the leaderboard playing the final holes. It was a challenge for all 35 players who had started Sunday within five strokes of Boriboonsub.
Witchayapat Sinsrang closed with a 67 to snare solo third place on -13, three shots shy of playing partner Guxin. Sadly Malaysia’s Shahriffuddin Ariffin, playing in the final threesome for the second straight event, had a morning to forget, a closing 75 seeing him slide to a tie for 34th.
In the MENA Tour race within the wider Beautiful Thailand Swing race, Englishman Tom Sloman retained the ‘2020+ Journey to Jordan’ OOM lead, a share of 25th place and a $705 cheque moving him to $28,870 with just the Blue Canyon Open starting Wednesday to play.
Countryman David Langley made up some ground with a share of 19th and will go into the final tournament just $1311 adrift.
Technically anyone down to Bailey Gill in sixth place on $15,887 could still win the J2J OOM and with it a start in one of the Asian Tour’s $1.5 million+ International Series events in 2022. However, Gill would need to win the Blue Canyon Open and hope Sloman, Langley and third-placed David Hague, the latter frustratingly 0-3 in terms of cuts made at the BTS, either fail to make the cut or finish well down the field.