After an extraordinary and dramatic finish to the UBS Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Club, Colin Montgomerie celebrated claiming his 30th European Tour title. The 42 year old Scot closed with a level par 70 for a winning nine under par total of 271 to relegate five players into second place, including the luckless James Kingston, who double bogeyed the last to lose his chance of the silverware.
Montgomerie’s victory was worth €170,590 (£116,584) and moved him to fifth on The European Tour Order of Merit as well as consolidating his strong position in the race for places in next year’s Ryder Cup Team. But more importantly, it pushed him back into the top ten on the Official World Golf Ranking at number nine.
Thailand's Thammanoon Srirot, KJ Choi of Korea, Chinese Taipei's Lin Keng-chi and American Edward Loar made it a five-way tie for second place on eight under par 272 alongside a heartbroken Kingston who relived the horror of last year when he hooked into the trees on the last hole on his way to a bogey five which handed Miguel Angel Jiménez the title.
In many ways, however, this year’s denouement was worse for the affable South African who turned 40 the day before the tournament began.
With three holes to play, Kingston, who had played gallantly for most of his round, led by two strokes before it went awry. He three-putted the 16th for bogey and then double bogeyed the 18th after a pushed two iron tee shot left him amongst the trees again.
He pitched out onto the fairway but saw his third shot finish short of the green. A poor pitch left him a six foot putt to force a play-off but could only look on in agony as that stayed above ground.
"I suppose the tournament is over 72 holes but after 71 holes, there was only one winner and our hearts go out to James,” said Montgomerie. “He played wonderfully for three rounds and all credit to him for being such a sportsman at the end to congratulate me.”
"It was a shame for him to finish that way. He must have been nervous on that last tee for sure and it is a very difficult hole, a very difficult drive and that is what hurt him. But I'm glad to be the recipient of that and I'm delighted to have won the UBS Hong Kong Open."
Close to tears Kingston admitted: "I just messed up again for the second straight year. It's obviously disappointing with the way I finished but that's golf. Obviously I was aware of the situation.
"I was just so nervous. Last year I pulled it left (on the 18th hole) and this year I wasn't going to do the same thing. I hit it right and just made double from there."
While Montgomerie did not play his best either, he showed grit and determination to hang in when things were not going well and he held his nerve in the final stages to cover the last five holes in one under par, a stretch which ultimately gave him the title.
Included in that was a superb approach to five feet to make birdie at the 14th and a brave downhill ten footer for par on the 16th which dived directly into the cup to keep his challenge going.
Third round leader Simon Yates of Scotland – an Asian Tour regular - never had it going with an opening double bogey six and signed for a 75 for tenth place.
|T2||CHOI, K J||KOR||18||-8|