Wade Ormsby UBS Hong Kong Open (Getty Images)
With the dust barely settled on a captivating 2017 season which reached a dramatic conclusion at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the 2018 season got underway as Australia’s Wade Ormsby struck first blood in the Race to Dubai by securing his maiden title at the UBS Hong Kong Open.
The 37 year old finally entered the winner’s circle in his 264th European Tour event in Fanling to earn 333,330 points and shoot to the top of the season-rankings. With a long season ahead, the victory gives him a great chance of making a second appearance at Jumeirah Golf Estates, four years after his first, when the season-ending DP World Tour Championship comes around again next November.
Having made four return trips to Qualifying School since first joining the European Tour in 2004 - and after battling his way to an 83rd place finish on last season’s Race to Dubai - Ormsby will also now have the added luxury of an exemption until 2020.
“The Race to Dubai really is a year-long worldwide competition,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai office. “With the exception of a short break over Christmas there are opportunities for players to add to their season ranking almost every week with this year’s schedule currently featuring 46 tournaments in 29 countries across five continents.
“Wade is a great example that hard work and perseverance eventually pay off and, with his European Tour card now secure for at least two years, he can play with less pressure and hopefully reap more rewards. With close to a year before our 2018 season-ending event in Dubai takes place again he has a wonderful chance of ensuring he stays in the Race to Dubai’s top 60 to gain a spot in the field.”
Ormsby was a shot behind leader SSP Chawrasia at the start of the final round but had slipped four behind by the turn. However the Indian triple bogeyed the ninth and then endured a torrid back nine of 38 which eventually left him in a share of seventh.
Ormsby got it going down the Hong Kong Golf Club’s back nine with birdies on 10, 14 and 17 but Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello, playing in the group behind, was also on the charge, picking up shots on 11, 13 and 17. Ormsby bogeyed the last meaning Cabrera Bello needed par for a play-off or birdie for the win. But after finding the greenside bunker he failed to get up and down and closed his round with a bogey to miss out for the second time in succession having also taken the runner-up spot in Hong Kong last year.
With Ormby taking the title at 11 under par, Cabrera Bello was joined by Sweden’s Alexander Björk, and American pair Julian Suri and Paul Petersen in a share of second place at 10 under par with each of them earning 133,055 Race to Dubai points.
Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood showed no signs of a 2017 season hangover with a solid display and four sub-par rounds that left him alone in sixth place at nine under par to earn 70,000 points as he embarked on the new season as European Number One.
Miguel Angel Jimenez rolled back the years with a stunning final round 63 to join Chawrasia in seventh place with 51,600 points. At 53 years old, the sensational closing round made the Spaniard the oldest player in European Tour history to shoot 63 or lower.
Justin Rose, who narrowly missed out on Race to Dubai glory in Dubai, picked himself up with an impressive showing that left him in a share of tenth place, alongside Shubhankar Sharma, Thomas Detry, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, James Morrison and Clement Sordet. Each of them earned 33,900 points to complete the early season Race to Dubai top ten.