SWEDE DREAMS COME TRUE FOR BJORK AT VOLVO CHINA OPEN

Alexander Bjork started the season with a dream – to win the first European Tour title of his career. At Beijing's Topwin Golf and Country Club, that dream came true and proved the talented Swede is more than ready to take his place at golf's top table..

As Alexander Bjork wrapped his arms around the famous Scandinavian Horizon Trophy, the 2018 Volvo China Open champion allowed himself a sigh of relief. He was proud. He was happy. But most of all he was a winner…

Seven days earlier, the quietly-spoken young Swede had watched from the clubhouse of the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat as his dream of winning a first European Tour title died at the hands of France's Alexander Levy.

Bjork's six-under par at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco was two shots short of victory and the 27-year old Swede zipped up his golf bag and packed his suitcase for the 10,000km trek to the next destination on his busy schedule… Beijing, a city where his dream would finally come true.

"I played really well in Morocco and was close to winning, just as I was at the first tournament of the season when I went close and finished tied for second in Hong Kong," he says at Beijing Huairou Topwin Golf and Country Club after rounds of 66, 72, 67 and 65 (-18) saw him finally emerge triumphant at the 44th time of asking.

"Third place in Morocco showed I was playing really well but obviously I came up short. But it meant I had a good feeling coming into the Volvo China Open.

"Although I didn’t practice much due to the jet-lag - I just played the Pro-Am - I thought if I could keep that form going then I'd have a very good chance of winning. 

"You never 'think' you are going to win – you hope of course – but I had a really good feeling. I was less nervous than usual going into a final round and felt confident throughout the day so maybe it was meant to be. I'm just happy, really happy that it's my turn to win."

Bjork's Volvo China Open victory was almost a masterclass from start to finish. The low point was "only" a level par-72 in round two that could, and should, have been so much better. The Swede admits it was the only time he let his emotions run away from him. 

"I was super-disappointed as I thought the score should have been as good as my 66 on day one," he says. "I just didn't really hole any putts – I didn't play badly but I didn't score well. My feeling was I should have been leading the tournament by a few shots but then you always think that!"

With that level-par 72 on his card, the new champion effectively shot -18 for just three rounds, including the final day when he admits he played "the best round of my life."

"It was the best round of my life as so much was at stake. It's hard to describe my emotions – I'm just really happy and so proud of the way I handled myself with just four dropped shots all week. It means a lot to me to win here as the Volvo China Open is a massive tournament and I want to dedicate the win to my parents, my sister and my girlfriend who have supported me all the way in my golfing career."

Now a European Tour winner, Bjork's breakthrough season came one rung down on the European Challenge Tour in 2016 when he enjoyed a maiden victory at Le Vaudreuil Golf Challenge, eventually finishing seventh in the Rankings. 

It came after a four-year period when he astutely allowed investors to back his playing career for a ten per cent return from his winnings. Asked if that means he'll share some of the RMB 3.33 million winner's cheque with his backers, Bjork offers a wry smile.

"No, that was a four-year contract that ended in 2016," he laughs. "Back then it was a way for me to get some extra money to spend on better practice facilities and coaching opportunities. I would give ten per cent profit back but that's not something I intended to do over a long period of time."

With no investors to satisfy, Bjork can look to spend his winner's cheque on a new home – "my girlfriend and I just bought a new house three days ago so it's pretty good timing to be honest!" – and on the travel budget players have to juggle as they compete on the global stage.

Bjork's maiden European Tour win at the Volvo China Open – an event tri-sanctioned by the China Golf Association, the European Tour and the Asian Tour – is no doubt a dream come true. 

But like any ambitious sportsman, the first Swedish champion in the tournament's 24-year history, also has other boxes to tick.

"For sure, my dream at the start of the year was to get that first European Tour victory. I also wanted to be in the top 20 in the final rankings in The Race to Dubai as that will allow me to get into other bigger tournaments next year."

Thanks to his victory in Beijing, Bjork jumps into the top ten in Europe and moves to 73rd from 112th in the Official World Golf Ranking to ensure those dreams are well on the way to becoming a reality for the new Volvo China Open champion.

 

Ends

 

Final Standings 2018 Volvo China Open 
270 (-18) Bjork (SWE)
271 (-17) Otaegui (ESP)
272 (-16) Smith (ENG), Campillo (ESP), Wallace (ENG) 
273 (-15) Bjerregaard (DEN)
274 (-14) Wu (CHN), Wang (KOR), Choi (KOR), Dunne (IRE),
 
(2018-04-30)

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