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Friday, 19 March 2010
Success can be viewed in many ways. For example, most young men who had earned over 1.7 million euro (£1.1 million) in their chosen profession over the past three years would have every reason to congratulate themselves on having made it. Not Fredrik Jacobson.

In the world of professional golf, making money is something, but winning is everything. Every player who tees up on a Thursday morning wants the trophy in their hands come Sunday night, and the 28 year old Monaco-based Swede is no exception.

A sparkling amateur career which brought wins across Europe was, in the view of many observers, merely the aperitif to a sumptuous main course of professional victories. Jacobson, however, went hungry until, at long last, he feasted on the Omega Hong Kong Open.

Six times in his European Tour career Jacobson had had to stand aside in second place while a fellow competitor took the honours. Not all had been disappointments. He was rightly proud of battling to a play-off with Lee Westwood in the 1998 Belgacom Open, a performance which saved his Tour card in the last counting event. He also fought bravely in the 2001 Linde German Masters, matching local hero Bernhard Langer's closing 67 before succumbing by a solitary shot.

But some had rankled. An untidy ending to the final round of the 2000 Murphy's Irish Open allowed fellow countryman Patrik Sjöland to pocket the title, while another disappointing finish to regulation play in The 2002 Barclays Scottish Open let Eduardo Romero catch him before the Argentine triumphed in the resultant play-off.

The week before Hong Kong, Jacobson was finishing his final round in the BMW Asian Open, the first counting event on the 2003 Volvo Order of Merit, just as eventual winner Padraig Harrington was teeing off. Fittingly, if the Swede needed any inspiration, here was exactly the man to give it to him.

Like Jacobson, an exemplary amateur record had preceded the Irishman's move to the professional ranks but recently he, too, had endured a number of near misses, seven top eight finishes in 2002 to be exact, before triumphing at the dunhill links championship and carrying that form to the Ta Shee Golf & Country Club in Taiwan.

And so it was to be, finally, for Jacobson, too, an excellent final round of 64 for a 16 under par total of 260 on the altered Hong Kong Golf Club layout, good enough for a two shot winning margin over nearest challengers Jorge Berendt of Argentina and fellow countryman Henrik Nystrom.

The Swede revealed that a new, strong focus had helped elevate him to the winners’ podium. “I didn't watch any leaderboards and I felt better than I have ever done before on the final day,” he said. “I was really happy I stuck with my game plan.”
Ironically, it would have made little difference if Jacobson had glanced at the leaderboards on the opening day, for he would not have seen his name, an inauspicious one under par 68 leaving him outside the top 40, five shots adrift of unheralded Indian golfer Amandeep Johl.

In the lead-up to the event, star attractions Nick Faldo and defending champion José Maria Olazábal had been ferried to their respective press conferences by helicopter after a sightseeing trip over Hong Kong, but at the end of the first round it was Johl who was flying high.
Another player who grabbed the early attention was Shih-Kai Lo who, by virtue of winning the Hong Kong Amateur Stroke Play Championship, had qualified to compete, thus becoming the youngest golfer to play in an event in European Tour history at the tender age of 13 years and 280 days.
The previous record had been held by Sergio Garcia, who at 15 years and 45 days played in the 1995 Turespaña Open Mediterrania and made the cut. Although the Taiwanese schoolboy could not match that feat, his two rounds of 73 did enough to suggest his is a name we might be hearing more of in the future.

Into the second round, and perhaps not surprisingly, the pressure of the spotlight told on Johl and the 33 year old from New Delhi slipped back, the lead shared, incredibly, by seven players on nine under par 129, Henrik Bjornstad, Stephen Dodd, Klas Eriksson, Tony Johnstone, Mårten Olander, Jyoti Randhawa and Ter-Chang Wang.

Of the seven, only Welshman Dodd maintained the position come Saturday night, the 36 year old from Cardiff joined at the head of affairs on 12 under par 195 by Berendt and Nystrom. More importantly, however, in a group of players one shot behind, Jacobson had moved into a challenging position thanks to excellent rounds of 65 and 63 following his opening 68.

The Swede continued his forward momentum in the final round thanks to an outward half of 30 and although he dropped a shot at the 11th, he bounced back with birdies at the 12th and 14th and, with victory in sight, carded four successive pars for a 64 to confirm his two shot winning margin.

“I'm now in my eighth season so it is nice to have a win after so many near misses,” said Jacobson, adding, “It's good to have the first one done.”

It was a comment which suggested there are more to come and who are we to argue. After all, success does breed success.

Scott Crockett

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JOHNSTONE, TonyZIM18-12
2JACOBSON, FredrikSWE18-16
T3NYSTRÖM, HenrikSWE18-14
T3BERENDT, JorgeARG18-14
T5ORR, GarySCO18-13
T5KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-13
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