Haotong Li is making his first Portugal Masters start, but perhaps more important than local knowledge is knowing what it takes to win. At 22 years of age, Li has been pegged as one of China’s top golf talents thanks to taking the title last year the 2016 Volvo China Open. He was also the first Chinese to make the cut at a major at this year’s U.S. Open.
Li ascended the world top 100 thanks to efforts that have brought him close to the winner’s circle again. Most know Li for his third-place finish at The Open, a.k.a. the top player not involved in the Matt Kuchar-Jordan Spieth duel down the stretch.
Li’s Sunday 63 at The Open came one shot away from matching the major championship 18-hole record set by Branden Grace the day prior.
Li can hit the ball relatively far (No. 49 on the European Tour in driving distance) and is No. 11 in putts per green in regulation.
He’s seeking to get back on the horse after four weeks off following missed cuts at the PGA Championship and Wyndham Championship. Prior, Li made off nine weekends in a row. In that span, Li took third at May’s Rocco Forte Open and posted a Sunday-best 66 to miss a playoff by one. He also was T7 at the Open de France, a Rolex Series event.
Thanks to his win last year, Li can afford to be more picky with his schedule. He played 32 events in 2015 and 25 last year. At this rate, his tournament total will fall in the low to mid 20s.