For the second week running a nerve-shredding ending produced a dramatic finish on The European Tour International Schedule, this time Miguel Angel Jiménez emerging victorious as he claimed the UBS Hong Kong Open for the second time.
Last week it was American Phil Mickelson who took the spoils in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai after a last hole drama featuring England’s Ross Fisher; this week it was the turn of Swede Robert Karlsson to let slip a potentially winning situation to allow the Spaniard in to claim his 14th European Tour title.
Having led from the halfway stage, Karlsson was still on course for at least a play-off with Jiménez as the players in the final pairing stood on the last tee tied at 16 under par.
Up ahead, the brave challenge of KJ Choi had seemingly run its race. The Korean set pulses racing amongst the huge crowds when he holed from 50 feet for an eagle three at the 13th hole but when he found a bunker at the 16th to drop a shot and then shed another at the 18th when he drove into the trees, his 67 was good enough only for a 14 under par total of 266.
That moved him alongside Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee who had produced the exact opposite in terms of a finish, carding six birdies in an incredible last seven holes to charge up the leaderboard. However, it looked good enough only for a share of third place – before the leading duo produced their last hole drama.
On the back of the green in two, Jiménez suddenly looked favourite when Karlsson’s approach shot failed to find the green and fell back into the grassy knoll in front of the putting surface. Incredibly, the Swede’s third shot also failed to make the green as he fluffed his chip before playing onto the green in four.
However, the tension was not over. Facing a tough downhill putt, Jiménez left it six feet short before knocking his par effort past the hole. It left Karlsson with an opportunity to make bogey five and force a play-off with the Spaniard but, from five feet, incredibly, he missed too.
He knocked in for a double bogey six, a two over par 72 and a tie on 14 under par 266 with Choi and Jaidee, leaving Jiménez the task of knocking home his bogey putt from one and a half feet for victory.
Given what had gone before, the crowd held their breath, but the Spaniard made no mistake this time and his closing round of 67 for a 15 under par total of 265 was good enough to win by one shot.
“It is very nice to win a tournament again, it is great,” he said. “I played very well through the week and I am very pleased. But I have to say the only down part I feel is for Robert, the way it finished was not so good because I know he wanted to win badly too.
“I like everything about this pace. I like the golf course, it is an old fashioned course which provides a great test and I also like the heat, like Malaga. I am like a fish in water when it’s hot, it is where I am meant to be. I also like the people here, I feel very comfortable.”
Understandably, Karlsson was desolate at his loss. “At the 18th, my approach shot, I was right in between clubs and I wanted to hit it really close. It was close but I just missed the shot a little bit and I got a really bad like down in the rough in front of the green.
“I did what I could and I don’t know what I could have done differently. A couple of decisions at the end of the day cost me a couple of shots but when you are out there it is difficult and at the end of the day, Miguel beat me fair and square.”
|1||JIMÉNEZ, Miguel Angel||ESP||18||-15|
|T2||CHOI, K J||KOR||18||-14|