China win the second in a week for Rumford
‘Surreal’ experience for Australian jumps into the lead in Race to Dubai eight days after victory in Korea
Brett Rumford of Australia (centre) holding the winner’s trophy with caddies after winning the final round of the Volvo China Open at 2013 Binhai Lake Golf Course in Tianjin, China. Photograph: by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
The 35-year-old from Perth had not won since 2007 before securing victory in the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea last Sunday with an eagle three on the first hole of a three-man play-off.
But the winner’s cheque of €407,906 takes his earnings to more than €771,000 for two weeks’ work and to the top of the Race to Dubai, while he has risen from 253rd in the world rankings a fortnight ago to a career-high place inside the top 80.
“As with last week I am kind of speechless at the moment, it’s quite surreal,” Rumford told Sky Sports 2. “It’s really hard to try and go back to back, it’s the first time I’ve actually played the week after a win so I am more than pleased.
“It’s quite a feat, it’s very special.”
The last back-to-back winner on the European Tour was Branden Grace, who won the Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions in his native South Africa in January 2012 and was also the defending champion here.
Rumford began the day one shot ahead of playing partner Ilonen and extended that advantage to three with a flawless front nine of 33.
The lead was down to one when Ilonen birdied the 10th and 11th, but Rumford edged further in front with a birdie on the par-five 12th and then holed from 45ft for birdie on the 13th and 14th for good measure.
“They were a couple of really nice putts,” Rumford said with considerable understatement. “You don’t really expect to make them, it’s just a lag, but halfway they looked in and that was the turning point.
“Mikko put the pressure on me through 10 and 11 and it was always going to be close but it’s amazing this game, it turns so quickly. Last week on 17 it turned for the worse and now here I am just trying to defend, to limp my way home and finish it off.”
Rumford was two clear with two play at Blackstone Golf Club last weekend but ran up a double-bogey six on the 17th and had to hole from eight feet for par on the last to make the play-off with Peter Whiteford and Marcus Fraser.
His task in China was made easier with a six-shot lead after Ilonen bogeyed the 13th and 14th, allowing him the luxury of dropping shots at the 15th and 17th and still easing to a fifth European Tour victory.
“I made some pretty ordinary golf swings to tell you the truth but it is a completely different mindset from the rest of the round,” Rumford added. “It’s the first time I’ve been in that position and hopefully I will learn from it and get stronger for next time.”
Damien McGrane was the only Irishman of five who made the cut, but he could only manage two under after closing with a 74.