Miguel Angel Jiménez continued his love affair with the Far East when he won his third title of the year in the region and fifth in total during 2004 by holding off a strong challenge from the defending champion Padraig Harrington and James Kingston in the Omega Hong Kong Open.
The Spaniard won the second event of The 2005 European Tour International Schedule, joint sanctioned with the Asian Tour, when he fired a final round 66, four under par, for a 14 under par total of 266, one clear of Irishman Harrington and Kingston of South Africa, who both closed with 67s. Denmark’s Thomas Björn and Thailand’s Thammanoon Srirot finished a further three strokes adrift on ten under par 270.
In a dramatic finale, Jiménez and Kingston were level with two holes to play and when Kingston holed a 35 foot birdie putt on the 17th the pendulum seemed to have swung his way.
But the Ryder Cup player followed him in from 25 feet and then Kingston hooked his drive up against a fence down the last. He had to take a penalty drop and bogeyed to fall back alongside Harrington, who played the last five holes in three under. He had a chance from 30 feet on the 18th to have a chance but left it short and had to settle for the 25 runners-up finish of his career.
"Five victories this year, nobody can think you can win so many times at the start of the year. I feel very happy how the year has gone for me," said Jiménez. "Every win is different. I like to live the moment. This means exactly like any other one. It shows me that I'm still in form. I feel great to win, I don't know what Padraig feels in his skin. It was good to beat him and Kingston and (Thomas) Björn. The rest of the guys were competitive.”
Kingston stuck to his guns, holing a 30 foot putt on the 17th to edge ahead but Jiménez matched that feat by holing his putt from 25 feet and Harrington tapped in his birdie. Jiménez said: "After James holed his long birdie on the 17th , it was very crucial for me to hole mine as well. I didn't think James was in a bad position on the 18th and that he'd needed a drop. He played very well. It was unlucky for him."
Attired in the winner's red jacket and a new Omega Red Gold Double Eagle watch in hand, Jiménez commented: "It's nice, I like red, I've got my Ferarris in red. This jacket is going to match with my cars."
Last year, Harrington triumphed by one after birdieing his last two holes. But it wasn't to be a repeat success. "It wasn't looking too bad (heading to the 17th). I obviously won by one shot behind with two holes to go last year. But the 16th was a bit disappointing but I putted badly all day. Obviously it cost me the round. I probably missed six very makeable putts in the round and that's what costs me.”
Kingston, who started the final day tied for the lead with the Ryder Cup stalwarts, showed tremendous poise and was in the lead by one on the par five 12th after a two-putt birdie. But he dropped shot on the 14th after missing a drive and fell out of the running by hooking a three-wood into trees and needed a penalty drop.
The Springbok, who has won four times in Asia previously, rolled in a 15 foot putt for bogey, which ensured he finished tied second with last year's champion. "I was proud of the way I played for a certain part of the day. I just needed to hit a positive shot on the 18th. I went with three wood and a good swing would have given me a nice aggressive shot into the green and a chance for the win. Obviously I made a bad swing there and that was it. It was disappointing," said the 39-year-old Kingston.