PGA Tour

Clearwater Bay Open: New Zealand’s Nick Voke takes top spot as Hong Kong’s Jason Hak sets course record

Battling nerves, Nick Voke holds off Callum Tarren’s late charge to seal a place on 2019 Tour

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2018, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2018, 7:26pm

While he admitted to nerves throughout the tournament, in the end New Zealand golfer Nick Voke’s game stayed calm and collected.

Voke held off a last round charge from Englishman Callum Tarren to win the Clearwater Bay Open on Sunday. Voke, who went into the final round five strokes clear, spent the day watching the leader board as Tarren skyrocketed up the standings, shooting a 62, one off the course record. Voke, shot a third consecutive three-under 67 for a 14-under total, said it was a tough way to finish.

Clearwater Bay Open: ‘Nervous’ Nick Voke on cusp of third Tour title

“I’m pretty exhausted and absolutely thrilled to be where I am and I think it will take me a couple weeks to realise what I’ve accomplished here,” he said. “Right now, though, I’m just pretty tired.”

Nerves played a big part of the round, added Voke, who admitted to “shaking” with nervousness during the third round. Tarren looked like he was going to challenge for the top spot by the end of the 18th, but fell just shy and had to settle for second at 11-under.

“The first time I saw the leader board was on the ninth green and I knew Callum was going deep and I had to keep things going if I wanted to win. Just a good gritty effort, that back nine. I stuck to my game plan and I felt the pressure, but I handled myself and my emotions and some adversity so just absolutely thrilled.”

Voke, 23, has been hot as of late, as he won his third PGA Tour Series-China event in his last four outings at the season-ending Clearwater Bay Open. Voke also punched his 2019 Tour card in the process with four other tour players.

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“It’s been a really awesome run of golf and I’m really excited to see what I do in the next couple of years. This win means a hell of a lot, to be honest with you.”

Voke continued his amazing run on the tour, which started with a fourth-place finish in Suzhou then back-to-back wins in Qinhuangdao and Macau last month. After a tie for 16th in the Zhuhai Championship, held last week, he put an exclamation mark on his season with a win in Hong Kong.

Tarren, 28, said his goal for the final round was to see if he could rattle Voke.

“I just went out today and thought if I could put some pressure on Nick early on and see what nerve he has and obviously he has pretty solid nerves.”

Tarren recorded his fourth runner-up placement of the season to grab the top spot on the Order of Merit, despite never having won on the Tour, which he first played in 2016 when he finished eighth on the money list. The Englishman notched eight birdies in a bogey-free round.

Hong Kong’s Jason Hak Shun-yat also had quite the final round, setting a new course record with a nine-under 61, also finishing as the top local player in a tie for 25th. Hak said he had a great start which carried through the whole round, in stark contrast to his previous day’s six-over 76.

“I birdied my first hole, but I did bogey my second hole but from there, I started on the back so I had four birdies actually starting from 13 and then birdied 15, 17 and 18.”

Hak said it was a good way to end the season, as well as playing on his home course.

“I’m definitely happy with how I played today but the year is over, and I’m going to regroup and come back and get ready for next year.”

Hong Kong’s Motin Yeung finished tied for 32nd after shooting a final round of 70 for one over par.