Masterful Mcilroy Triumphs

Sun 04 Dec 2011

Masterful Mcilroy Triumphs


Hong Kong, December 4: World number two Rory McIlroy finally laid his hands on the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy on Sunday, closing with a spectacular five-under-par 65 which included a dramatic closing birdie from the bunker for a two-stroke victory.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman started the final round three shots back on a sun-kissed day at the Hong Kong Golf Club but tied for the lead at the turn with two birdies before edging ahead of a packed leaderboard with further birdies on 12, 15 and 18.

Frenchman Gregory Havret, playing alongside McIlroy, settled for second place with also a 65 while Sweden’s Peter Hanson took third place after a 70. Asia’s top finisher was Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul, who shared fourth position with last year’s champion Ian Poulter of England and Scotsman Richie Ramsay, four behind the winner.

It was also a memorable day for Juvic Pagunsan when he made history by becaming the first Filipino to win the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown with a 10th place finish which gave him an unassailable lead on the rankings with one event, the Thailand Golf Championship, remaining.

After two runner-up finishes and a sixth place in Hong Kong in the past three years, reigning U.S. Open champion McIlroy, finally achieved his dream of winning the UBS Hong Kong Open after an extraordinary final round charge.

When he spectacularly holed out from the greenside bunker at the demanding 18th hole, McIlroy broke into a frenzied celebration with his caddie JP Fitzgerald.

“It does mean a lot. I wanted to win this tournament so badly since that play-off in 2008, but finally, to get this trophy in my hands, is very special. It meant a lot to go out there today, knowing that I had to play well to keep myself in The Race to Dubai, probably to keep myself in second place in the World Rankings. There's a lot to play for and to produce the sort of golf that I did today was very pleasing,” said McIlroy, who kept his hopes alive in becoming Europe’s number one.

“You know, I've loved this city, I've loved the golf course, I've loved the tournament ever since I got here.  I felt like it owed me something after the play-off (defeat). No matter how prestigious tournaments are, you always have your favourite and this is definitely one of my favourite tournaments and to be able to win it is fantastic. And I couldn't be happier.”

He strode up the 18th with a one-shot lead but found the greenside trap with his approach. But McIlroy hit an exquisite bunker shot out which found the bottom of the cup and the sent fans wild. “I just hit a perfect bunker shot, and once it landed on the green, it never looked anywhere else and I think you could see how much that meant to me. I think that's the most excited I've maybe ever been on a golf course. It was just incredible to see the ball drop and realise that I had finally won this tournament,” said McIlroy.

A 12-hour sleep and a five kilometer run in the gym in the morning revitalized McIlroy after he had looked completely out of sort in the second and third rounds. With a spring back in his step, the supremely talented Northern Irishman came out fighting with a purpose.

“I slept for nearly 12 hours last night, and actually went into the gym this morning. I went for a run just to get my body sort of going and try to get a bit of energy and get it moving and that seemed to work because that's the best I hit it all week today,” he said.

Havret said an opening bogey proved costly although he fought back with four birdies and one eagle. “The only mistake is probably the first hole where I three-putted. Nothing of absolute beauty because I didn't win. I had a chance going into the last one behind him but I obviously made a bad drive, and that was for me very hard to make par, but Rory did and managed to make an efficient shot. He seems to like this hole quite a lot, and, yeah, his shot (birdie) was absolutely amazing,” said Havret.

Poulter fought like the champion he is before a bogey on 15th took the wind out of his sails. “Disappointing obviously. I come to defend and I've come up shy. I thought I had a chance. I got it to nine-under and I just flushed it on 15, pitched two yards short of the pin and it's gone through the back of the green, costly bogey at the wrong time,” lamented the Englishman.

Pariya enjoyed his best finish of the season as he broke out of a slump with five missed cuts in his last six tournaments. He started the final round one back but a bogey on the first and a double on the sixth saw him fighting to eventually finish in the top-five.

“I'm just glad it's over. Didn't have a very good start like yesterday again, but somehow I managed to turn it around again. Right now, I'm just glad it's over with. I’ve got weak feelings in my knees and everything. Good finish,” said the Thai.

Scores after round 4 of the UBS Hong Kong Open being played at the par 70, 6,730 Yards Hong Kong GC course (a- denotes amateur):

268 - Rory MCILROY (NIR) 64-69-70-65.

270 - Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 70-69-66-65.

271 - Peter HANSON (SWE) 68-68-65-70.

272 - Richie RAMSAY (SCO) 68-66-72-66, Ian POULTER (ENG) 71-68-67-66, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 70-65-67-70.

273 - Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 68-69-70-66, Y.E. YANG (KOR) 68-69-65-71, Alvaro QUIROS (ESP) 64-69-67-73.

274 - Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 68-70-68-68.

275 - Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP) 65-70-72-68, Jose Manuel LARA (ESP) 70-70-67-68, Robert-Jan DERKSEN (NED) 72-68-66-69, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 67-69-69-70.


About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), J.Lindeberg (Official Apparel Partner), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts), Cityneon (Official Event Overlay Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Royal Selangor (Official Trophy Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), BlackBerry (Official Mobile) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.