Rumford wins Volvo China Open by four, his second victory in two weeks

Brett Rumford at the Volvo China Open
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Brett Rumford won the Volvo China Open, making him the first Australian to win twice in a row on the European Tour since the circuit's first season in 1972.
By news servces

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, May 05, 2013 | 12:53 p.m.

TIANJIN, China -- Brett Rumford became the first Australian in 41 years to win back-to-back European Tour titles with Sunday's victory at the Volvo China Open.

Rumford shot a final-round 68 to win by four shots with a 16-under 272 total. Finland's Mikko Ilonen shot a 71 to finish second at 12 under, with Victor Dubuisson (68) another shot back in third.

It had taken Rumford more than five years and 121 starts to capture a fourth title at last week's Ballantine's Championship in South Korea, but he has managed a fifth just seven days later.

''As with my win last week, I'm kind of speechless at the moment,'' Rumford said. ''It's quite surreal. It's the first time I've actually played the week after a win, so I'm more than pleased. It's hard to get my head around it at the moment.''

The 36-year-old Rumford holed a 45-foot putt for eagle at the par-5 12th hole to pull away from Ilonen, who could manage only a par to fall three behind. Rumford then extended his lead to six shots when he birdied the 13th and 14th holes.

The only Australians to win back-to-back events on the European Tour were Jack Newton and Graham Marsh in 1972, the first year of the tour.

''It's quite a feat and that makes it very special, so I feel very honored and special,'' Rumford said.

Rumford moved to the top of the Race to Dubai standings, while his ranking has jumped from No. 253 to inside the top 80.

Portugal's Ricardo Santos, who was rookie of the year in 2012, shot a 69 for a share of fifth place at 9 under, his fifth top-10 finish in nine events this year.

Sixteen-year-old Chinese amateur Dou Ze-cheng posted a final-round 73 to finish tied for a share of 33rd place with defending champion Branden Grace of South Africa (74) at 287.

Dou, the only amateur to make the cut, finished ahead of former Ryder Cup stars Edoardo Molinari of Italy (288), Niclaus Fasth of Sweden (292) and Philip Price of Wales (294).

After a nail-biting playoff victory last Sunday, matters were much more straightforward at Binhai Lake on Sunday for Rumford, who surged clear with five birdies in 10 holes to turn the final round into a procession. A couple of dropped shots over the closing holes were no more than a footnote.

“I managed to get up and down when I really needed to. There are some very tight lies round the perimeters of the greens, so it was tricky,” Rumford said. “My putter was also really on song, as it was last week. It puts a lot of pressure on your opponent when you’re saving par all the time.” 

The result was Ilonen’s second runner-up finish of the season, and the 33-year-old is now confident of re-entering the winner’s circle soon having claimed both his previous titles back in 2007.

“I had a chance to win, disappointed not to do so, but I couldn’t do much more,” he said. “You saw what Brett did there on the back nine for three holes – I’m speechless. I couldn’t force the issue. I had a number in my mind, which is what Brett finished on. 

“It’s my second second place this year, so hopefully there’s a win round the corner,” he added. “The confidence is building; I’ve been hitting the ball nicely most of the time this year. Today I drove the ball really well, and I feel a lot more confident all round. 

“Brett did so well not to make more bogeys. His short game, bunker play and wedges were unbelievable today – I don’t see too many better players than him in the world in that area of his game. So he definitely deserved to win today.”