Grégory Bourdy held off a hard charging Rory McIlroy to win the UBS Hong Kong Open by two shots on Sunday (15 November).
The Frenchman carded a polished three-under-par 67 at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to finish on 19-under 261 for the tournament.
Northern Irish youngster McIlroy showed flashes of his prodigious talent in compiling a 64 but fell just short in the US$2.5 million showpiece for the second year in a row.
“It’s great, I had a fantastic week,” said Bourdy, 27. “It’s my best golf week, best golf day today. I played very consistent. I missed a few putts at the start of the round but I stayed confident.
“It’s my mother’s birthday today so I dedicate this to her. My girlfriend is here and everything went right.
“I was relaxed today and all week. I was so confident. I tried to enjoy all my shots, all my rounds and did it. I missed just a few shots this week. I can’t believe it was so nice to play like this.”
Bourdy, the overnight leader by two shots, was unflappable down the stretch, picking up birdies at the 10th and 13th and calmly playing the final five holes to par.
McIlroy, 20, roared on by the galleries, did his best to put Bourdy under pressure and closed the gap to one shot with consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th.
But a three-putt bogey at the 17th took the wind out of his sails and Bourdy arrived at Fanling’s notoriously difficult final hole with a two-shot cushion.
Bourdy collected the winner’s cheque for US$416,660 and enjoyed the bonus of leaping into the top 60 on the European Tour’s Race To Dubai, thereby qualifying for next week’s season-ending Dubai World Championship,
“I wanted to stay focused on my game, play shot by shot, and I knew if I was three or four-under it would be OK to win the tournament,” said Bourdy.
“I didn’t look at the leaderboard until the 18th so I didn’t know Rory played well. I was three-under after 14 holes and it was nice to finish with a par on the 18th as it’s a tough hole.
“Dubai was the target before I played here. I knew if I won I’d go to Dubai but first was to play well today and win this UBS Hong Kong Open. I’ve played well, won and I’m going to Dubai, so I have everything.”
The victory was Bourdy’s third European Tour title after victories in the 2007 Mallorca Classic and the Open de Portugal last year.
McIlroy – joint runner-up in the UBS Hong Kong Open a year ago after losing a three-way playoff to Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen Tang – was forced to settle for second best again.
But he could take consolation in the fact that he overtook Lee Westwood at the top of the Race To Dubai standings.
World No.17 McIlroy, who earned US$277,770 for his second place, refused to be too downhearted and paid tribute to the winner.
“I played lovely, really, really well,” he said. “I thought I needed a low one and went out with the mindset that if I went lower than 65 then I might have a chance but Grégory obviously played very well.
“If I’d birdied one of the last two holes I might have given myself a chance, so that’s the way it goes. I’m a bit disappointed at the moment but I have the consolation of going back to the top of the Race To Dubai.
“There’s a lot that can go on next week but my goal this week was to win the UBS Hong Kong Open and I’ve come up just short again, for the second year in a row. But I gave it my best shot and that’s all I can do.”
McIlroy heads the Race To Dubai with earnings of €2,538,449 – a lead of €128,173 over Westwood.
World No.4 Westwood endured a difficult day at Fanling, a closing 74 relegating him to joint 54th place at one-under.
Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen, who began the day two shots behind Bourdy, returned a 68 to finish joint third with Italy’s Francesco Molinari.
Derksen needed to finish first or second to qualify for Dubai, but he put a positive spin on the outcome.
“I’d rather miss out on Dubai than have to go to Spain for the Tour Qualifying School,” he said. “That’s the way it is. There are more people who are unlucky.
“Greg deserved to win as he played really well yesterday and today. He didn’t make any mistakes. I played well today and just made one or two mistakes but he never gave me any room to allow me to get close.”
Molinari – joint runner-up with McIlroy a year ago – compiled a closing 64 to complete another impressive outing at Fanling.
England’s Ian Poulter and Frenchman Rapha?l Jacquelin both carded excellent 64s to finish equal fifth on 14-under.
World No.13 Poulter started the day eight behind the leader and admitted he had given himself too much to do.
“I would’ve had to finish 10 or 11-under and it still might not have been good enough, but it was nice to finish strong,” he said. “I had a chance to have a run at it but didn’t quite do enough.”
Defending champion Lin began the day six shots off the pace but his challenged fizzled out with a 72 that left him in joint 22nd place on eight-under.
“It’s quite disappointing to return with an over-par score today,” said Lin. “I tried to rally a late charge but I guess a couple of wayward swings didn’t do me any favours. But that’s how the game of golf is.”
Apart from Bourdy, another man celebrating at Fanling on Sunday was Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who clinched an unprecedented third Asian Tour Order of Merit crown ahead of China’s Liang Wenchong.
Both players carded 67s to finish joint 11th on 10-under for the tournament.
The UBS Hong Kong Open – Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event, having started in 1959 – was once again co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.