After European Tour record books were re-written last year, the stage is set for the 55th chapter of the storied and age-defying Hong Kong Open this week in Fanling.
In 2012, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez became the oldest winner in European Tour history when he captured the Hong Kong Open for the third time at the age of 48 years and 318 days.
A five under par final round of 65, which might have been even lower but for a cold putter, gave him a 15 under par total at Hong Kong Golf Club and a one shot victory over Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed last year.
Six months older than Ireland’s Des Smyth was when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open, the victory was Jiménez’s 19th on The European Tour and 12th since turning 40 – two of which also came in Fanling in 2005 and 2008.
Since being founded in 1959 – making it the longest running sporting event in Hong Kong history – the tournament has yielded plenty of record-breaking feats for the ages such as the achievement of Shih-kai Lo, who became the then youngest player to compete in a European Tour event aged just 13 and 280 days in 2003, while four years ago Jason Hak became the then youngest player to make a cut in a European Tour event, aged 14 and 304 days.
That record has since been beaten by Chinese sensation Guan Tian-lang, who was 14 years and 169 days when he made the 36 hole cut at the 2013 Masters Tournament, and he will be one of the promising up-and-comers looking for a flying start to their embryonic golfing careers this week.
The evergreen Jiménez will also be hoping to set yet more records by winning a fourth Hong Kong Open title and with it join Hsieh Yung-yo (1963, 64, 75, 77) as the tournament’s most prolific winner.
Standing in his way, however, are the likes of European Tour winners Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Jbe Kruger, while Asian hopes will be strong with India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and his compatriot Gaganjeet Bhullar, who completed a wire-to-wire win at the Indonesia Open last week.
Also in Hong Kong this week for what is a double header on The 2014 Race to Dubai along with the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, Australia’s Marcus Fraser will retain good memories of last year, when he missed out by three strokes to Jiménez despite closing out with an excellent six under par 64.
Meanwhile, 2013 Challenge Tour Number One Andrea Pavan will also be looking to build on a strong start to his 2014 European Tour season after he fired a final round 65 at Leopard Creek Country Club to claim a share of 11th place in the Alfred Dunhill Championship last week.
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