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Hard work pays off for Strange

SCOTT Strange of Australia shot a 4-under 68 yesterday to win the Volvo China Open by one stroke from Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain.

Strange holed five birdies in his round to total 8-under 280 on the par-72, 7,321-yard Beijing CBD International Golf Club course.

"It's reward for putting all those hours in at the range and all that time on the putting green," said Strange, who won the Wales Open last June. "I'm still here ... I lost that for a while, straight after Wales, for about six months. To do this now is sort of putting the ship back on course."

Fernandez-Castano shot 72 to continue his strong form after losing in a playoff at the Estoril Open earlier this month.

"My putting was quite poor on the first 12 holes or so and, by the end of the round, I could feel it was getting there but it was a bit too late," Fernandez-Castano said. "Today, I played the worst of the four days but I hung in there."

Two strokes off the lead were overnight leader Richard Finch of England (74), Ashley Hall of Australia (71) and Mark Brown of New Zealand, who shot seven birdies but had two bogeys and a double bogey in a 69.

Stephen Dodd of Wales, the 2005 champion, had an eagle on the final hole for a 68 and a share of fifth place at 283 with England's David Dixon (71).

Paul McGinley (68) finished four strokes off the pace with Austria's Markus Brier (73) and Chapchai Nirat of Thailand (72). European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie (73) finished at 1 over.


Meanwhile, the OneAsia Tour is likely to find a substitute for the Pine Valley Beijing Open in its remaining six tournaments this year.

The Pine Valley Beijing Open, originally scheduled for May 7-10, had been listed as part of the newly launched OneAsia Tour before being called off earlier this month.

"The Beijing Open will not be a OneAsia event this year," Zhang Xiaoning, director of the China Golf Association (CGA), said yesterday.

But the China golf chief said there would still be six tournaments on the OneAsia Tour this year, implying another event might take its place in the lineup. Zhang added that OneAsia aimed to have "12 to 15" events by 2010.

China's participation in the new Asia-Pacific golf body, driven by Australia with support from South Korea, has effectively ended its association with the established Asian Tour, which was reported to have influenced the cancellation of the Beijing Open.


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