Li makes history for China in British Open

Source:Agencies Published: 2017/7/24 23:28:39

21-year-old prodigy qualifies for US Masters

China's Li Haotong celebrates on the 18th hole during Day 4 of the British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in England on Sunday. Photo: CFP

Chinese prodigy Li Haotong registered his country's best-­ever performance in a major after shooting a 63 in his final round at Royal Birkdale on Sunday to finish third in the British Open.

Li, 21, started the day at one-over for the championship and parred his first seven holes before a remarkable run of seven birdies and four pars in his remaining 11 holes.

His seven-under-par round allowed him to end the championship at six under par, behind only the winner Jordan Spieth, on 12-under, and runner-up Matt Kuchar.

It was just the 32nd round of 63 ever recorded in a major championship and just the 11th achieved at a British Open.

The score was the all-time low in a major until Saturday, when South Africa's Branden Grace broke new ground with an unprecedented 62 in the third round.

"For some reason after hole No.8 I just started holing ­everything. Now I'm feeling awesome; it is unbelievable actually," Li said.

Playing with South Africa's Ernie Els, a two-time former British Open winner, Li sealed his superb effort with an immaculate approach shot to within 1.5 meters of the pin on 18, leaving an easy birdie putt.

He made birdie at each of his last four holes.

Earlier in the day he had been listed as a 1000/1 shot by some bookmakers to win the championship. His performance means he qualifies for next year's US Masters.

Li had gone 69-73-69 through his first three rounds, solid if unspectacular form.

But he made history at the US Open last month at Erin Hills when he became the first player from the Chinese mainland to make the cut of a major.

He ended up shooting 82 and 84 over the weekend to finish last among the players to make the cut, but he also won the China Open last year when still just 20 and represented his country at the Rio Games.

Jordan Spieth survived a roller-coaster final round to claim his third major title after beating fellow American Matt Kuchar by three strokes in a thrilling duel.

Spieth carded a one-under-par final round of 69 to finish on 12-under for the tournament.

The Texan, who won the US Masters and US Open in 2015, joined Jack Nicklaus as one of only two players to win three legs of the career Grand Slam before turning 24. Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his third different major.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy produced his best round of the week with a 67 to leave him on five-under for the tournament and tied in fourth place with Spain's Rafael Cabrera-­Bello who shot 68.

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