Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez planted three precise kisses on the trophy in wiping Des Smyth’s name from Tour records by capturing a third UBS Hong Kong Open in eight years.
Jimenez, at age 48 years and 318 days surpassed Smyth’s record of 48 years and 34 days in capturing the 2001 Maderia Islands Open and becoming the oldest winner in European Tour history. The Spaniard, affectionately known as ‘The Mechanic’, celebrated in now traditional style with a glass of Rioja and a cigar after carding a final round 65 to win by a stroke on 15-under par from Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Head (64).
Just as delighted was Peter Lawrie, who rather than jetting out of Hong Kong and bound via Dubai for Dublin, will now get off the plane with Jimenez in the UAE for this weeks’ final Race to Dubai event, the DP World Tour Championship.
Lawrie arrived in Hong Kong lying 60th on the money list and hence labelling himself the ‘Gingerbread Man’. But after grabbing a share of a share of fourth place courtesy of a final round 66 for an 11-under par total, Lawrie will now be chasing a sizeable slice of the tasty $8m (€6.3m) prize purse. Lawrie’s effort saw him jump eight places to 52nd on the Race to Dubai. However, after moving to four under par after two days Lawrie’s competitive nature presented a bigger weekend target.
“I pretty much thought after shooting two 68s in the tougher conditions over the first two days I would be right for the Race to Dubai so the focus was then more on trying to win the tournament,” he said.
“I probably just didn’t hole enough putts.
“I went to Dubai in 2009 to finish the year 43rd so that’s the big goal now to try and better that finish. And by qualifying now for Dubai it says it’s been a ‘not bad’ season but, of course, I wish I was further up the Order of Merit as I like to improve every year.”
Lawrie will now join Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington teeing up in Dubai. And McIlroy now has the added incentive of becoming the richest-ever season earner in the history of the PGA and European Tour if successful in ending the year with victory in Dubai.
Five years ago, former World No. 1 Tiger Woods amassed combined PGA and European Tour earnings of $11,557,729 (€9m).
Woods won seven regular Tour events in 2007 including his 17th Major title, the PGA Championship along with two WGC victories while he also competed in two regular European Tour events.
McIlroy heads into this week’s final Tour tournament already having amassed official combined 2012 European and PGA Tour prize money of $9,620,300 (€7,54m) from his 22 tournaments on either side of the Atlantic. The 23-year old Northern Irishman will add $1m €784,000 to that for simply teeing up on Thursday.
That’s the top prize from a $3.75m (€2.94m) ‘bonus pool’ for Europe’s top-10 finishers this year and with McIlroy already assured the money in wrapping up the Race to Dubai by finishing third in the recent Barclays Singapore Open.
It still puts McIlroy $937,429 (€735,600) adrift of Woods’ 2007 historic season high. However, if McIlroy were to claim the $1,333,300 (€1,046,240) first prize cheque in Dubai he would surpass the American’s 2007 high by $395,857 (€310,628).
Meanwhile, Luke Donald moved up a place to world number two as he overtook Woods by claiming victory in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan.
Donald followed up opening rounds of 65, 64 and 71 with a 68 for the win.
He had led by four shots going into the final round and ended up finishing five strokes ahead of nearest rival Hideki Matsuyama. It is the 34-year-old’s first tournament win since he defended the PGA Championship at Wentworth in May.
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