Lara relieved at Tour title breakthrough

Jose Manuel Lara was a relieved man after finally securing his first victory on The European Tour after capturing the UBS Hong Kong Open crown on Sunday.

Jose Manuel Lara was a relieved man after finally securing his first victory on The European Tour after capturing the UBS Hong Kong Open crown today.

The Spaniard, who has finished second on the circuit on four previous occasions, edged Filipino rookie Juvic Pagunsan by one shot to win the event.

Ireland's Peter Lawrie finished on four under par, tied in 25th place. Damien McGrane finished two shots further back.

Lara had finished top of the leaderboard after each round but was in danger of losing out once again after a brave performance from Pagunsan on the final day, who at on stage even took over at the top.

But a bogey on the 16th proved crucial and Lara birdied the same hole to retain the lead and he held on for the remaining two to become the third Spaniard to win at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

“It is my fifth year on The European Tour,” he said. “I won on the Challenge Tour in the Warsaw Open and that was my first year as a professional.

“I have finished second four times, third four times and have been around many times and not got the trophy. This is my time and it is a great feeling.”

Lara was congratulated by compatriot and the 2003 winner in Hong Kong Miguel Angel Jimenez after making the winning putt.

Jimenez had a chance himself of winning the trophy again after he followed up a good third round score of 66 to card a two-under-par 68 on Sunday, but in the end it was not enough to catch Lara.

And he added: “It is a great moment. Seeing Miguel coming onto the green. He knew it was a tough day for me.

“I have been close many times and he knew that. He said to me: ‘Forget about everything and you are along on the course.' Miguel and Alejandro (Canizares) are very good friends and it helps.”

The victory also takes a lot of pressure off Lara in his pursuit of victory on The European Tour and he continued: “You will not believe the amount of people who ask me when am I going to win but now I can say I have won.

“This is a very important moment in my life and to lead everyday is the most important thing, rather than coming from behind.

“I was thinking my first victory would be from coming from behind, making a good round but this is great and now I can say that I have won.

“Most of the media in Spain call me every week saying ‘when are you going to win’ and that put some pressure on me but I have won now so everything is good.”

There was joy also for India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, whose third-placed finish ensured he won the Asian Tour UBS Order of Merit.

“I am very excited,” he said. “It is like a Christmas gift to me now. The year has been excellent and I will go to the Volvo Masters of Asia and have fun.”

Singh finished alongside Jyoti Randhawa and Thongchai Jaidee with a 12-under-par 268.

Last year’s winner Colin Montgomerie had a disappointing weekend as he carded par-70 on both days to finish 19th with a five-under-par 275.

The Scot had never really got going, carding a one-under-par 69 in the opening round and then a four under 66 on the second day.

Liang Wen-chong carded the first and only hole-in-one of the tournament on the 140 yard par-four 12th.

Michael Campbell finished on three-over-par 283 after a disappointing final round for the New Zealander.

He carded four bogeys on the front nine and then shot a double bogey on the 18th for a five-over-par finish on the day.

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