The China Golf Association first held the Volvo China Open in 1995. In those early days the organisers had ambitions of putting on a world class tournament that would attract the true stars of the global game. It took them just one year to get the new tournament onto the Asian Tour and less than a decade for it to be added to the European Tour schedule.
The Volvo China Open has been held at several different courses inside China, rarely staying at one venue for more than a couple of years. This variety is just one of the factors that helps to draw in high class fields full of international golfing talent year on year. It’s also a tournament with a taste for drama, as narrow winning margins and playoffs are far from rare.
|2020||Genzon Golf Club||Zhang Huilin|
|2019||Genzon Golf Club||Mikko Korhonen|
|2018||Topwin Golf & Country Club||Alexander Bjork|
|2017||Topwin Golf & Country Club||Alexander Levy|
2020: Zhang Huilin
Travel restrictions meant that the 2020 Volvo China Open could not take place on the European Tour. There were no such restrictions within China which allowed the event organisers to hold the tournament as a national event on the China Tour for one year only. Zhang Huilin was the man to take advantage, the amateur becoming the fifth homegrown winner of the Volvo China Open.
You wouldn’t have thought that Huilin was an amateur as he won by a monster nine shots. Nine was a lucky number for him during the tournament as -9 was his winning score and also his score for his incredible third round. As if this win wasn’t impressive enough, Huilin was the only player to post an under par score for the tournament.
That excellent display on Saturday meant that Huilin did not have to worry about nerves playing a part on Sunday. Even a horror round on Sunday would have allowed him to win as it was really just a matter of how many shots he would win by. “I’m obviously very excited to win the national open title, but I also broke my own tournament scoring record by three shots this week,” said a delighted Huilin after his final round.
2019: Mikko Korhonen
The 2019 Volvo China Open saw the tournament moved to Genzon Golf Club. European Tour fans worried that the switch in venue would produce less drama needn’t have ben concerned as Mikko Korhonen, Benjamin Hebert and Jorge Campillo put on a real show in the final round.
It was Korhonen who came out of a pulsating day with the victory. The Finn joined Hebert on -20, one shot clear of Jorge Campillo at the end of the 72 hole tournament. After trading blows all day, the pair were all set to go at it again but their playoff battle lasted just one hole as Korhonen made a three that Hebert could not match. That was a reversal of their fortunes a little earlier as it was Hebert who made birdie to get himself into the playoff.
Korhonen said that his putter was to thank for this second European Tour title. “I don’t know how I did it but it’s probably the putter that was my winning formula this week,” he said afterwards. He was also proud of the way he coped with the pressure of playing in his first playoff as a professional.
2018: Alexander Bjork
Topwin Golf & Country Club produced a thrilling finish to the 2017 Volvo China Open and did so again one year later. This time around it was Alexander Bjork who managed to come out on top of a cracking battle for the title which included a whole host of players.
Adrian Otaegui was the man who pushed Bjork hardest on Sunday. The Spaniard finished one shot outside of a playoff with three players one shot further back including overnight leader Matt Wallace. Try as they may to apply the pressure, the chasing pack could not stop Bjork who built up a head of steam early on. The Swede made the turn in three under par and then went one shot better on the homeward nine to get the job done.
As first European Tour wins go, this was an impressive one. Bjork looked like a man who had won on three different tours prior to this breakthrough victory and he certainly wasn’t overawed when he got himself into contention. “I’m really, really happy,” said a beaming Bjork after lifting the trophy. “It’s probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever played. Probably the best round because of the situation.” That sounds about right about a bogey free round of 65 to win a tournament of this stature.
2017: Alexander Levy
Alexander Levy secured a very impressive double at the 2017 Volvo China Open. This was his second win at the event in just three years, but his first success back in 2014 came at Genzon Golf Club, whereas the 2017 edition took place at Topwin Golf & Country Club.
More impressive than learning a new course was the fact that Levy started the final round a massive seven shots off the lead. Closing the gap to Dylan Frittelli required two factors. First, Levy needed to play some of the golf of his life. Second, he needed Frittelli to play poorly. Both of those things happened as both men ended the tournament on -17.
Given the contrasting momentum of the two players on Sunday it was no surprise that Levy came out on top in the playoff. “It’s an amazing feeling to be back in the winner’s circle,” Levy said after outlasting Frittelli. “This means a lot because it was the first tournament I won on the European Tour.” The sort of aggressive golf required to close the gap prove to be right up the Frenchman’s street as he earned a fourth career European Tour title.