Haotong Li leaves his mark on sensational Open Championship outing and moves to 10th in Race to Dubai

Haotong Li’s sublime third-place finish in The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale saw him break into the top ten of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings for the first time.

The 21-year-old Chinese prodigy clinched a substantial 596,286 points with a second consecutive appearance at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 16-19, already well and truly secured despite being denied victory by Jordan Spieth, as the American lifted the Claret Jug and became one of just two players, alongside the great Jack Nicklaus, to win three different Majors before the age of 24.

Nick Tarratt, Director of the European Tour International Dubai office, said: “Haotong continuously proves his worth and his strong performances just keep on coming. We most certainly are eager to welcome him to Dubai in November as a very strong field is already taking shape in this year’s DP World Tour Championship.”

SPIETH PREVAILS IN HISTORIC WIN

Spieth looked to be in control, heading into the final round three shots clear of fellow American Matt Kuchar. However he bogeyed three of the first four holes to see his overnight advantage initially wiped out.

And for the first time in three days the 23-year-old dropped out of the lead after carding a bogey on the 13th as memories of his 2016 ‘Masters meltdown’, when he squandered a five-shot lead with just nine holes to play, came flooding back.

However, Spieth then almost holed his tee shot to the par-three 14th to set up a tap-in birdie, before holing from 45 feet for eagle on the par-five 15th.

Kuchar carded a birdie there to fall just one shot behind, only for Spieth to hole from long range for a birdie on the 16th and follow the former in for another on the par-five 17th.

Par at the last completed a remarkable closing 69 – Spieth’s fourth sub-70 round of the week – and a 12-under-par total of 268, three shots ahead of the unfortunate Kuchar, who also shot 69 after a bogey on the last.

Two-time DP World Tour Championship winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland finished in tied fourth on five-under par with Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open winner Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain, and England’s Matthew Southgate a stroke further back alongside USA’s Brooks Koepka, South Africa’s Branden Grace, Sweden’s Alex Noren and Australia’s Marc Leishman.

Southgate, who spent the week of the 2015 Open receiving treatment for testicular cancer, finished 12th at Royal Troon last year and made sure of an even better finish with a closing 65.

RACE TO DUBAI MOVERS AND SHAKERS

McIlroy and Cabrera Bello each sealed 418,446 points, with McIlroy climbing from 22nd place to 11th while Cabrera Bello strengthened his fourth-place position in the Race to Dubai rankings after increasing his season tally to 2,084,367 points.

Noren, Grace and Southgate gained 244,965 points each with Noren solidifying fifth place in the season rankings as he increased his total to 1,825,752 points. Grace jumped from 45th place to 25th while Southgate catapulted from 30th to 17th.

Last year’s Open Champion, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, shared 11th place with England’s Paul Casey and USA’s Chan Kim. The reigning Race to Dubai champion claimed 152,849 points and progressed from 16th to 15th.

Englishmen Ian Poulter and Chris Wood and Canada’s Austin Connelly all shared 14th and in the process, each gained 112,384 points. Poulter broke into the Race to Dubai’s top 60 to be in contention of featuring in the prestigious DP World Tour Championship as he moved from 80th to 57th, Wood climbed from 43 to 34th while Connelly jumped 55 places as he moved from 167th to 112th.

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood remains at the head of the Race to Dubai Rankings with 3,690,659 points whilst Spaniard Sergio Garcia is in second with a season-tally of 2,741,107 points and his young compatriot Jon Rahm sits in third spot on 2,680,971.