Chinese pair make breakthrough in Team Championship

The first Chinese winners of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship’s team event, Haotong Li and Allen Zhang, afterwards revealed the secret of their success: eating a hotpot meal together on the eve of their 11 under par final round of 61 at the Old Course.

Rising professional Li and his amateur partner Zhang, the creator of WeChat, decided they needed to share a traditional Chinese dish at the Fairmount Hotel as good luck ahead of the tournament’s last day.

It worked, too, with Zhang sinking the eventual winning putt – a five foot effort for a birdie on the fifth green, their penultimate hole after teeing off on the 7th hole in the shotgun start employed to enable the competition to finish before forecast bad weather closed in on St Andrews.

Li shot a six-under par 66 to end the individual event in fifth place, and he earned an additional cheque for the 35 under par team score alongside Zhang. It gave them a one-shot victory over second-placed Thongchai Jaidee and American businessman Scott Desano.

‘My partner played very well today – and his birdie, on a hole when he did not have a stroke, was a great moment for us’ said Li. ‘It is also history, pretty much, with us winning this competition.’

Zhang and Li said they were going to enjoy ‘a nice celebration’ of their team victory, although they did not say if another Chinese hotpot was going to be on the menu.

In third place were Spanish professional Nacho Elvira and his amateur partner John van Wyk, a South African businessman who has twice represented his country in the World Karting Championships. They shot an eight-under par 64 for a 32 under par finishing total.

Among the 20 teams which made the cut in the Team Championship were Australian cricket legend Shane Warne and former Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll.

Warne and New Zealand professional Fox shot a final round 66 to tie for 12th place, while O’Driscoll and his partner, Irish professional Robin Dawson, could only manage a level par 72 to end up tied for 14th at 23-under-par.