Kev keeps his cool to reign in the rain

Victories rarely come easy on this season’s PGA Tour Series-China-three playoff showdowns in the six tournaments played so far are proof of that.

In the latest shootout, Kevin Techakanokboon was the last man standing as the rain lashed down in Nantong, Jiangsu province, on Sunday.

The American made an eight-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to defeat England’s Stephen Lewton and win the Nantong Championship.

“I thought I was OK going to the last hole (of regulation), but that’s not an easy finishing hole,” said Techakanokboon. “Stephen made a great birdie, and I knew I at least needed par to win it.”

The other playoff winners this year were Taihei Sato from Japan in Chongqing and American David Kocher at the Haikou Championship.

Techakanokboon began the day a stroke behind overnight leader Max McGreevy and turned in a stellar final day, shooting a 67 at Nantong Yangtze River Golf Club. However, a bogey on his last hole of regulation made Techakanokboon work a little harder for his second tour title, that goes with his 2018 Zhuhai Championship triumph.

McGreevy carded a 69 to finish with a 16-under total, a stroke behind the playoff contenders.

Techakanokboon and Lewton parred the first extra hole, with Techakanokboon prevailing on their third playing of the 18th when Lewton couldn’t make a 30-foot birdie.

“I’m pretty pleased. You can’t be too mad about it,” Techakanokboon said. “I just wanted to come out and play well. I didn’t have expectations or anything. There are a lot of positives to this one.”

Techakanokboon improved to third on the order of merit, positioning himself nicely for the second half of the season. The California native, who splits his time between the Golden State and his parents’ birthplace of Thailand, has also enjoyed a steady climb in the world rankings.

He fell as low as No 2,056 in the world before winning in Zhuhai seven months ago, a victory that improved his standing to 895. He entered last week’s tournament at a career-high 761.

As something of a consolation for McGreevy, the 54-hole leader took over top spot on the money list with his third-place finish, knocking Kocher to second in the process.

Clubhouse notes:

* Chinese mainland’s Wang Yanzhang finished as the best amateur in Nantong, on a 2-under total, tied for 24th.

* Xu Guozhen was the best-placed finisher from Chinese mainland, shooting a 74 on Sunday to end the week at 6-under, in 17th place.

* Amateur Liang Enqi endured a difficult day, shooting a final-round 85 after firing a 69 the previous day. Liang had four holes of double bogey or worse. He tied for 62nd.

* In only his third career start, American Andrew Hudson tied for sixth, at 9-under. The University of North Texas graduate opened and closed with rounds of 69.

* Brad Gehl turned his opening-round 63 into his second top-10 finish since joining the tour earlier this year. He tied for fourth with Michael Perras.

* The PGA Tour Series-China resumes with the Suzhou Open (June 10-16) before heading to Anhui province for the Huangshan Championship (June 17-23).

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