Monday, December 09, 2013

Jimenez the conqueror in Hong Kong

Miguel Angel Jiménez broke his own record as The European Tour’s oldest champion by winning the Hong Kong Open for a fourth time in stunning style. Aged 49 years and 337 days, Jiménez used his experience to devastating effect in a play-off with Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Welshman Stuart Manley, holing a slick 18-foot putt for birdie at the first extra hole to add to the titles he won here at Hong Kong Golf Club in 2005, 2008 and last year. Earlier in the day he birdied the 17th and made a fine up-and-down at the last for a four under par 66, which left him tied on 12 under with Prom Meesawat, who went one better with a 65. Late drama then ensued when Qualifying School graduate Manley holed his chip for a three on the 18th to join the play-off, but his joy was cut short when Jiménez calmly rolled in a birdie putt to claim his 20th European Tour title. “This is very sweet,” said the Spaniard. “I love this place and I love this golf course. Holing that putt to win the play-off makes it even sweeter. “Winning a tournament is always tough. I three-putted the 15th and then I missed a good birdie chance on the 16th, so I knew I had to make at least one birdie on the last two holes. I never stopped telling myself, just take it hole by hole, stay calm, live the moment. “It’s been a hard season because I missed the first few months when I broke my leg. I worked very hard to come back from that. I work very hard in the gym every day with stretching and cardio. And the main thing is my head. The head is still very competitive.” Meesawat looked to be marching towards his first European Tour title when he led by three midway through the final round thanks to two eagles, but he bogeyed the 14th and parred his way home. “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.”  It has been an eventful few weeks since Manley earned his European Tour card at the Qualifying School Final Stage, and although he was not able to capitalise on leading at the start of the final round, he was delighted with his performance this week. “I'm pretty pleased,” he said. “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. “I was pretty pumped (in the play-off). I said to my caddie that we could do something special. It was a great chip and I think I started celebrating before it went in. “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.”

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