Howell slump lets Edfors in for title

 

Sweden’s Johan Edfors claimed his first European Tour title with victory in the TCL Classic on the Chinese resort island of Hainan as overnight leader David Howell’s bid fell apart in the final round.

Edfors shot a four-under-par final round of 68 to take the title on 25 under, one shot clear of Australian Andrew Buckle and a further stroke ahead of Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng.

Nick Dougherty followed up his second-place finish at the Singapore Masters last week with fourth in Sanya while Howell, who led after the second and third rounds, slumped to a three-over par 75 which left him five strokes behind the winner.

Edfors, who trailed Howell by two shots at the start of the day, had a slow start with bogeys at the second and third before a birdie at the fourth ignited his round.

That was the first of seven strokes the Swede picked up over the final 15 holes as the expected onslaught from the tournament’s big names failed to materialise.

After a week in which the Yalong Bay Golf Club yielded numerous low scores, the men at the top of the leaderboard struggled as the wind picked up around the course on the South China Sea coast.

Howell’s one-shot lead evaporated early in the day, the 30-year-old dumping his tee shot into the water on the par-three third on his way to a double bogey which handed the lead to playing partner Buckle.

But a double bogey of his own two holes later hurt the young Australian, who ended up finishing the day two-under par for the round and one shot shy of Edfors’ 72-hole total.

Edfors, though, left it late to earn his win, holing a putt from 10 feet after a fine approach shot at the last to leave Buckle needing a birdie to take the tournament into a play-off.

The Queenslander gave himself the chance to draw level with his second at the 449-yard par four but his birdie putt swung to the right of the cup to hand Edfors victory.

Defending champion Paul Casey, meanwhile, ended the week five shots off the pace at 19 under par after a final-round 68 while Ireland’s Paul McGinley - who lost in a play-off last year to his Ryder Cup team mate - was three shots further back.