Haotong Li Claims Emotional BMW International Open Victory

Li claimed his first win in four years after holing an incredible birdie putt at the very first playoff hole against Thomas Pieters

Haotong Li screams whilst holing the winning putt
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In one of the most dramatic back nines and playoffs we've seen this year, Hoatong Li holed a monster birdie putt after a thinned chip to secure his first victory in over four years.

During a final round that seesawed throughout, Li holed a birdie putt of over 45-feet to defeat Thomas Pieters at the first playoff hole, with the 26-year-old's burst of emotion capping off a return to form that has eluded the Chinese star for a number of years.

Revealing that 10 months ago he almost gave up the game completely, an emotional Li said: "I tried to hit a lot of good putts today, especially on the back nine. I knew it was going to be super tough, but I held in there. Luckily I played my best!" 

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Beginning the final day, Li held a three shot lead over Pieters, with the 26-year-old looking to secure his first win in four years and 149 days. After a handful of holes, that win looked even more likely, with Li birdieing three of his first five to extend his advantage to five.

Nerves were soon starting to show though and, when back-to-back bogies were made at the sixth and seventh, the lead was two going in to the back nine. Li was just  holding on and, when Ryan Fox moved to within one as well as Pieters, the pressure was almost too much.

Li though didn't give in, with birdies at the 16th and 17th giving him a slim advantage up the last. As both he and Pieters pounded two shots to the green, Li had a putt for the win after watching his playing partner two-putt for a birdie.

His attempt wouldn't drop though, catching a piece of the right side of the hole before lipping out for a tap-in.

Pieters hits a drive with a tee shot

Pieters was looking to secure his second DP World Tour title of 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After an already dramatic 18 holes, we were heading to a playoff and, after Li flirted with the water twice on the par 5 last, it was actually the 26-year-old who was in the driving seat, with a seemingly straightforward up-and-down facing him for a chance at the title.

As Pieters splashed out his bunker shot to eight-foot, Li could put some serious pressure on the Belgian. What followed though was a thin of monumental proportions, with his golf ball coming to a stop some 50-feet from the flag. Advantage Pieters...

You would think that, after a bladed chip, Li's confidence would have withered, but that wasn't the case. Striking his putt cleanly, it never left the hole, dropping in for a birdie and an incredible show of emotion.

That emotion was soon at breaking point and, when Pieters missed his birdie putt, it boiled over, with Li crying on the ground of the Golfclub München Eichenried's 18th green.

Matt Cradock
Freelance Staff Writer

Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.