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Li Haotong makes history for China at the Open Championships
Last Updated: 2017-07-24 09:37 | Xinhua
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Li Haotong made history for Chinese golf as he finished third at the Open Championships at Royal Birkdale on Sunday.

The 21-year-old, who played alongside two-time Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa, birdied each of the last four holes to post a sparkling 63, which should have tied the major record if Branden Grace had not posted the lowest 18-holed score in history with a 62 on Saturday.

The 7-under round moved him to 6 under overall and earned him a third place, the best performance for Chinese player in any Grand Slam events. Liang Wenchong was the most successful Chinese player after finished a tied eigth place in the 2010 PGA Championships.

Li is the third Chinese golfer to tee up in The Open following Liang in 2008 and Wu Ashun in 2013.

Finishing top four means that he will automatically qualify for the 2018 Masters.

"Wow," he said. "What a gift!"

Li, who lives in Shanghai started the day at 1 over par and got hot after making a birdie at the eighth. He played his last seven holes in 7 under to shoot the 32nd 63 in major championship history.

The 63 put Li at 274. He ended up 6 shots behind eventual champion Jordan Spieth. It is just Li's second major championship appearance as he finished 68th last month at the U.S. Open.

"It's like a dream come true," said Li, who turned pro in 2011.

Last year. Li won the Volvo China Open on the European Tour and earned an exemption to The Open by finishing among the top 30 in the European Tour's Race to Dubai.

"He was playing good and making putts," said Els, who shot 74 in the final round. "And he had a nice attitude. I could see he wasn't backing off. You see some guys get a little bit scared, but he kept going. So it was really special to see. The shot on 18 (hitting it to 4 feet) was just phenomenal."

"For some reason since hole No. 8, I started holing everything," said Li, ranked No. 107 in the world. "I can't explain it."

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