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HONG KONG OPEN | REVIEW

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HK GOLFER・JAN 2014

HKGOLFER.COM


History Maker

Miguel Angel Jiménez rewrites the record books as both he and Fanling produce another spectacular Hong Kong Open finale. Photography by Daniel Wong and Kimi Tai

C

ometh the hour, cometh the man – and in Miguel Angel Jiménez, the Hong Kong Open has a man for the ages.

By capturing his second successive Hong Kong title – and a record-equalling fourth overall – following a dramatic play-off with Stuart Manley and Prom Meesawat, the engaging Spaniard extended his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner. The way Jiménez rallied late on that turbulent Sunday was typical of a man who defies convention. It was also typical of Fanling, in arguably its finest condition of all time, as a tournament venue of the highest calibre to throw up such an enthralling finish. The moment Jiménez stood over that curling 18ft putt on the Hong Kong Golf Club’s famous closing green, you could sense something special was in the making. When the ball trickled off his putter face, rolling slowly – unerringly – into the centre of the hole for the most unlikely of birdies, a new chapter in the history of this magnificent tournament had been written. It brought about Jiménez’s 20th European Tour win and it came just a few weeks shy of his 50th birthday. “I love this place, I love this golf course, I love the tournament,” said Jiménez, who signed for a closing 66 as he joined Taiwan’s Hsieh Yungyo as a four-time winner of the championship. “I played so well and I holed some putts, and the one in the play-off gave me victory.”

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Stuart Manley celebrates his brilliant chip-in on the final hole of regulation play; Miguel Angel Jiménez (opposite) is all smiles after holing that brilliant 18ft birdie putt to win for the fourth time HK GOLFER・JAN 2014

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It was also typical of Fanling, in arguably its finest condition of all time, as a tournament venue of the highest calibre to throw up such an enthralling finish. The moment Jiménez stood over that curling 18ft putt on the Hong Kong Golf Club’s famous closing green, you could sense something special was in the making.

Prom Meesawat (top left) made two eagles on the final day as he went in search of his first European Tour victory; Jiménez (top right) with the coveted trophy 36

HK GOLFER・JAN 2014

With 13 victories since turning 40, Jiménez now has his sights set on becoming Europe’s oldest Ryder Cup player later this year. The last of his four Ryder Cup appearances came at Celtic Manor in 2010 and he would comfortably beat the record of the great Ted Ray – who was 50 years, two months and five days old at the inaugural contest in 1927 – if he can qualify for Gleneagles in September. “If I play the way I am playing this week I will be in the Ryder Cup Team,” he added. “There is one more year to go and now I get this victory here it will help a lot. You never know; I would love to be part of the team again.” Thailand’s Meesawat had looked set for his first European Tour victory when he eagled the third from 20 feet to take the lead and went three

clear with another from 50 feet at the long 13th. However, the 29-year-old bogeyed the next just as Jiménez was recording consecutive birdies. Meesawat played courageously all day and saved par from 30 feet at the 16th, which was enough to go back in front as Jiménez threeputted the hole behind, only for the Spaniard to thrill the sizeable galleries to birdie the 17th thanks to a well-judged putt from 10 feet. Manley had started the day with one shot lead, but that was eradicated immediately when he hit a wild tee shot at the first and bogeyed. The Welshman, seeking a first European Tour title, has had an eventful month since successfully coming through his 10th visit to Qualifying School – notably following a hole-in-one with an 11 at the next hole in November’s World Cup of Golf. The 34-year-old’s rollercoaster continued as he had four bogeys and four birdies in his first 10 holes, but needing to pick up a shot over the last three holes to make the play-off his chance seemed to have passed when birdie putts at the 16th and 17th slid by and he then missed the green at the last. However, Manley responded with a brilliant chip-in for a 68 to enormous applause, only to then hit a hospitality tent with his approach on the first extra hole. HKGOLFER.COM


The last of Jiménez’s four Ryder Cup appearances came at Celtic Manor in 2010 and he would comfortably beat the record of the great Ted Ray – who was 50 years, two months and five days old at the inaugural contest in 1927 – if he can qualify for Gleneagles in September. Meesawat, who had completed a closing 65, had also missed the green, but although both recovered well Jiménez rendered their par putts irrelevant. “It’s been an amazing week for me,” said Meesawat. “I didn’t feel any disappointment in the play-off. I did my best this week, and it’s my best finish on this golf course.” Manley added: “I’m pretty pleased. Obviously I’m disappointed to lose in a play-off with a poor shot, but for Miguel to make birdie is pretty special.  It was pretty special to make three myself to get into the play-off. So I can take a lot from the week. “This week will give me a lot of confidence. It’s money on the board for The Race to Dubai and everything feels very positive.”

Robert-Jan Derksen (top) of the Netherlands and 2006 champion José Manuel Lara (left) of Spain made their mark on the tournament, finishing in fourth and a share of fifth respectively 38

HK GOLFER・JAN 2014

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NUMBERS GAME

Tim Tang was again the only golfer from Hong Kong to make the halfway cut. Rounds of 71, 70, 72 and 76 gave him a share of 74th place

4 7 11 13 618

J iménez now has this many titles (with wins in 2004, 2007, 2012 and 2013) to join Hsieh Yung-yo with the most in Hong Kong Open history.

He joins an exclusive club, one that includes Tiger Woods, To m Wa t s o n , B e r n h a r d Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Sir Nick Fado and Mark McNulty, in becoming the seventh player to win the same official event on four or more occasions.

Hong Kong Open – Final Standings 1

40

Miguel Angel Jiménez*

ESP

70 67 65 66

268 US$216,660

2= Prom Meesawat

THA

66 70 67 65

268 US$112,910

Stuart Manley

WAL

67 67 66 68

268 US$112,910

4

Robert-Jan Derksen

NED

69 67 68 65

269 US$65,000

5= Javi Colomo

ESP

72 66 68 66

272 US$46,540

Angelo Que

PHL

69 67 68 68

272 US$46,540

José Manuel Lara

ESP

69 68 65 70

272 US$46,540

8= Andrea Pavan

ITA

65 72 68 68

273

US$27,885

Richard Finch

ENG

70 67 68 68

273

US$27,885

Joel Sjoholm

SWE

68 70 65 70

273

US$27,885

Wade Ormsby

AUS

67 68 66 72

273

US$27,885

12= Chawalit Plaphol

THA

69 70 69 66

274

US$19,695

Olivier Fisher

ENG

68 70 67 69

274

US$19,695

Anirban Lahiri

IND

68 70 67 69

274

US$19,695

David Lipsky

USA

69 68 67 70

274

US$19,695

Alex Cejka

GER

68 67 68 71

274

US$19,695

Shiv Kapur

IND

69 66 66 73

274

US$19,965

18= An Byeong-hun

KOR

69 69 71 66

275

US$15,426

Seve Benson

ENG

66 72 69 68

275

US$15,426

Panuphol Pittayarat

THA

69 70 68 68

275

US$15,426

Johan Carlsson

SWE

70 70 66 69

275

US$15,426

Grégory Havret

FRA

71 70 65 69

275

US$15,426

Unho Park

AUS

71 66 67 71

275

US$15,426

HK GOLFER・JAN 2014

The Spaniard became the 11t h pl aye r t o w i n 2 0 or more official European Tour events.

He extended h is own European Tour re c ord for mo st wins by a player aged 40 and over to 13.

The win, the 20th of Jiménez’s illustrious ca reer, ca me i n h is 618t h Eu ropea n Tour event.

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