Felton wins China Classic

Monday, 18 October 2010

Australian Kim Felton produced a stunning final round to win the OneAsia Midea China Classic by two shots on Sunday at the Royal Orchid International Golf Club.

Felton, who has spent most of this year working in a friend's wine shop, scored 65 in the last round to beat Scotland's Simon Yates, with former PGA Tour winner Andre Stolz (69) and fellow Australian Mitchell Brown tied for third.

Young Korean Bang Doo-hwan, former PGA Tour regular Stephen Allan and overnight leader Stephen Dartnall tied for fifth at seven-under.

But it was Felton's day as he came from four shots off the pace, starting the day with four straight pars before rattling off seven birdies in 12 holes to set up the win.

"I'm shattered. I'm sort of numb. I was using muscles and nerves out there I hadn't used for a long time," the Perth-based 35-year-old said.

"It has been a tough couple of years and a lot of hard work, so it's just great to turn it around. The main feeling is relief, believing that you can win again."

The highlight of the round was a 45-foot birdie putt on 16 to pull three clear of Yates, who drew within two again with a birdie at 17.

"I thought I'd have to shoot about five or six under today to win. Winning any tournament is tough, but it has been a long time, so it's good to know you can pull out all the shots when you have to," Felton, a former Australian Amateur winner, said.

"The putter was the best it has been for a long time. Once the putter's good, golf's a fun game. Anyone who wins is putting well."

Felton won the last of his six Von Nida Tour titles at the 2007 Victoria Open. After a loss of form and enthusiasm, Felton decided to take a break from competitive golf and returned home last April.

"I talked with my fiancée and decided to have a break. I just wasn't enjoying it. I practised for four or five months, then tried playing again in Australia at the end of the year, but it was too early and I stopped again," he said.

"From February till about three weeks ago, I've been working in a mate's wine shop and hitting balls for several hours a day. It was a good plan that allowed me to practise and rediscover my love for the game."

"Pro golfers are a pretty uptight bunch at the best of times, so it has been a really up and down time for me. This has really taken a huge weight off my shoulders."

OneAsia's final events of the year are both in Australia, with the Australian Open at The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney from December 2-5 and the Australian PGA Championship at the Hyatt Regency Coolum from December 9-12.