Tianjin, China – Another week, another European Tour victory for Brett Rumford.
One start removed from a playoff triumph, Rumford fired a 4-under-par 68 on Sunday and cruised to a 4-stroke victory at the China Open.
Rumford, who won last week's Ballantine's Championship, finished 72 holes at 16-under 272 and became the 31st player to secure back-to-back titles on the European Tour.
"As with last week I'm kind of speechless at the moment," said Rumford, who has five European Tour victories to his name. "It's quite surreal -- it's the first time I've actually played the week after a win so I'm more than pleased. It's hard to get my head around it at the moment."
Mikko Ilonen carded a 1-under 71 at Binhai Lake Golf Club and ended alone in second place at 12-under 276. The second-round leader was seeking his first win on the circuit since 2007, when he won twice.
Victor Dubuisson (68) took third place at 11-under, while first-round leader Robert-Jan Derksen (69) placed fourth at minus-10. The latter recorded his first top-10 finish on the tour in over two years.
Ricardo Santos (69) and Pablo Larrazabal (73) tied for fifth at 9-under, Andreas Harto (67) took seventh at 8-under, and Thomas Bjorn (70), Paul Casey (70), Felipe Aguilar (69) and Joost Luiten (73) ended knotted in eighth at 7- under.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (75), who won his first European Tour title at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March, dropped into a tie for 12th with Ricardo Gonzalez (71) at 6-under.
The last player to win back-to-back titles on the tour was the defending champion of this event, Branden Grace, who accomplished the feat at the beginning of the 2012 season at the Joburg Open and the Volvo Golf Champions. The world No. 32 finished this year's version at 1-under, tied for 33rd with a large group which included 16-year-old Chinese amateur Dou Ze-Cheng.
On Thursday, amateur Wo-cheng Ye of China made history as the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event at 12 years and 242 days old, besting the record set by recent Masters participant Tianlang Guan. Ye failed to make Friday's cut, however, carding consecutive 79s and finishing at 14-over.
Rumford may have ended with a comfortable lead, but the margin wasn't that large throughout Sunday's final round.
The Australian began the day with a 1-stroke advantage over his playing partner, Ilonen, and that cushion ballooned to three at the turn courtesy of a flawless outward 33.
Rumford birdied Nos. 2, 5 and 6, then saved par with a masterful and lengthy bunker shot at the ninth.
Ilonen managed just one birdie through his first nine holes -- at the second -- but he turned the trick in succession at the start of his inward nine, cutting the margin to a single stroke in the process.
The drama was short-lived, however, as the red-hot Rumford pulled off a hatrick of birdies beginning at the 12th to virtually seal the final result.
A deft chip set up his gain on the 12th, and a 45-foot hole-out on the next highlighted the brilliant stretch, which was bolstered by Ilonen bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14.
When the dust settled, Rumford held a 6-stoke lead, and he cruised from there despite bogeys on two of his final four holes.
NOTES: The last Australian to record back-to-back wins on the European Tour was Jack Newton in 1972 ... In addition to the Ballantine's Championship, Rumford has European Tour titles at the 2007 Omega European Masters, 2004 Irish Open and the 2003 Aa St Omer Open ... Ilonen finished ninth in Qatar and second in Morocco this season... Grace finished tied for 18th at the Masters three weeks ago ... Guan was 13 years and 177 days old in this event in 2012. He went on to become the youngest player to compete and make the cut at the Masters this year.