Li fires low round of the day
Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar may have provided most of the drama on the final day of The 146th Open but there is no doubt who produced the best round of the day.
That honour goes to China’s Haotong Li who went out early but posted a seven under par 63 which at the end of the day was to take him all the way up to third place on six under par 274.
Ultimately, Li’s round was to be engulfed by the drama created later in the afternoon by Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar but not before his playing partner, two-time Champion Golfer of the Year Ernie Els, had described it as every bit as good as the record-breaking 62 the South Africa’s compatriot, Branden Grace, had recorded the previous day.
Li started the day at one over par after opening rounds of 69, 73 and 69 and he was still stuck on that number before consecutive birdies on the eighth and ninth holes. He moved to two under par with a third birdie of the day on the 12th and then mounted a grandstand finish which for a while at least looked as if it might be enough to catch the leaders as they started to falter mid-way through their final round.
In the end it was not to be but by finishing in the top-four, it does give him a place in next year’s Masters Tournament. “That big gift. Huge. Huge,” he said in broken English, learned first on the Web.com Tour and more recently on the European Tour, where he notched his first victory on home soil last year at the Volvo China Open. Subsequently, he also finished third, one shot outside the play-off, at this year’s Rocco Forte Open in Sicily before, famously incurring the wrath of his mother when, at the French Open, she had to retrieve his putter after he had thrown it into a pond.
“It was a great round,” Els said. “He started off a little bit slow, but I think the birdies on eight and nine really freed him up. Then he made an unbelievable save on 10, 11. He didn't miss a putt. The par on 17, I don't know if you saw that, he came out of a fairway bunker but it was incredible. He did everything he could. That's not the same number as Gracie yesterday, but it's just as good a round. given the conditions were much tougher.”
Li, himself made no such claims, instead crediting a hot putter for his score
“It’s unbelievable, actually. I can’t explain (it), but it means a lot. For some reason, since hole No. 8, I just start holing everything. When I had bad shot, I just always tell myself, hang on in there and try to hole putt. Glad to see I holed everything. I very happy out there.
“It's kind of a dream come true, you know, since I start playing golf,” he added. “I first started watching The Open when Tiger was around. I always wanted to play The Open and to play so good means a lot.”