Li headed into the final round alongside Pieters, and with a three-shot lead over the Belgian. 15 holes later, the Ryder Cup player had closed the gap. As such, the two leaders found themselves in a match play situation. It was Li who gained the initial advantage thanks to a brilliant birdie on the 17th. However, Pieters hit back with a birdie of his own on the 18th. On the first play-off hole, the 18th, Pieters hit the better approach onto the green, but it was Li who showed nerves of steel to sink a 12-metre putt for birdie. As the fans showed their appreciation, the weeping winner sank to the floor with relief.
“It’s incredible. There are no words to describe this feeling,” said Li. “Ten months ago I wanted to stop playing golf. I told my friend and now caddy Zhi Yang. He has always been with me through the dark times. I cannot thank him enough. I hardly slept last night, but I dreamed of lifting this trophy – and now that dream has come true. It is unbelievable.”
Third place went to Ryan Fox from New Zealand (-20), ahead of Finland’s Sami Välimäki (-18). Fifth place was shared by two-time winner Pablo Larrazábal (ESP), Romain Langasque (FRA) and Nicolai von Dellingshausen (GER, all -17), who was the best of the 17 Germans who started the tournament. “I am very, very happy,” said von Dellingshausen. “With the score and the result, of course, but also with the way the week has gone, my game, and my mental approach.”