November 18, 2007 – Miguel Angel Jiménez won the UBS Hong Kong Open on Sunday (November 18) in one of the most dramatic finishes in the tournament’s 49-year history.
The Spaniard triumphed by a single shot in the US$2.25 million showpiece despite bogeying the final hole as playing partner Robert Karlsson finished with a double bogey.
Jiménez carded a three-under-par 67 at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to finish on 15-under 265 – enough to land the trophy for a second time following his success in 2004.
Sweden’s Karlsson recorded a 72 to finish in a three-way tie for second on 14-under 266 with Korean star KJ Choi (67) and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (65).
“It’s very nice to win a tournament again, it’s great,” said the 43-year-old Jiménez, who collected the winner’s cheque for US$375,000.
“I played well throughout the week so I’m very pleased. But I feel for Robert and the way he finished. He played so good all week and then had a double at the last. It’s not the best way to finish.”
Record crowds witnessed moments of high drama as first Choi and then Karlsson and Jiménez stumbled on Fanling’s notoriously difficult par-four 18th hole.
PGA Tour ace Choi produced a miraculous second shot from behind some trees to the edge of the green, but rolled his chip into a back bunker and was forced to settle for a bogey five.
That left Karlsson and Jiménez, locked together at 16-under, two strokes clear coming to the 18th.
But Karlsson – who had begun the day four strokes clear of the Spaniard – hit his approach short and fluffed his third shot, hitting a bank at the front of the green, before chipping his fourth shot to within five feet.
That left Jiménez, who was on the green in two and 20 feet from the pin, with two putts to clinch the title, but the Spaniard left his first putt six feet short and rolled his second one past the hole.
That gave Karlsson a lifeline, but his bogey putt to force a playoff drifted right and a relieved Jiménez tapped in for victory.
“I hit my first putt there and thought it was going to be very fast, downgrain, downhill,” said the Spaniard.
“But I left it too short, about the same distance that he had his putt for bogey. So I putted first and I missed that one.
“When I missed, I still know that I’ve got a chance because it’s not an easy putt for him and he could miss. If not, at least we’re going to have a playoff.
“It’s not easy. I miss on the left and he misses to the right and that’s it.”
Earlier, Jiménez’s chances of lifting the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy had looked slim when he trailed Karlsson by four shots with seven holes to play.
But he birdied the par-three 12th and followed up with an eagle on the par-five 13th to pull back another stroke as Karlsson birdied the hole.
Karlsson’s lead was cut to one when he bogeyed the par-four 15th and the duo were level when Jiménez made a birdie three at the next, setting up the dramatic finish.
While disappointed, Karlsson took defeat in his strike. “I hit close enough to the pins but when I hit good putts, they just didn’t go in,” said the Ryder Cup star.
“I did what I could but I don’t know what I could have done differently. A couple decisions cost me a couple of shots but when you’re out there, I don’t think I would have made any different decisions.
“Miguel hit a lot of good putts. At the end of the day, he beat me fair and square.”
Jiménez was full of sympathy for Karlsson, who had led from the second round.
“Robert played so well all through the week, he was on the leaderboard all the way to the last hole,” said Jiménez.
“I told him I was sorry for the way he finished the tournament. He’s a top class player, no doubt, and he played well, but you can have only one winner.”
It was the second time Jiménez had benefited from a rival stumbling on the 18th at Fanling.
Three years ago, South Africa’s James Kingston bogeyed the hole to hand him the title by one stroke.
After landing his second Hong Kong triumph on Sunday, Jiménez said he had a great liking for Fanling’s tight, par-70 Championship Course.
“I like this course very much,” he said. “I’ve been saying it since I won here in 2004. It’s an old fashioned golf course, a beautiful design.
“You need to play very well from the tee. It’s not very easy to hit those greens, especially when you miss the fairways.”
Sunday’s victory was Jiménez‘s 14th on the European Tour and his first since the Celtic Manor Wales Open in June 2005.
It was also the second Spanish victory in a row at Fanling following José Manuel Lara’s triumph a year ago.
Choi, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, pulled level with Karlsson on 16-under when he holed a monster eagle putt on the 13th but gave a stroke back on the 16th and then hit his drive into the trees on the final hole.
“The eagle gave me a very good chance, but on the 18th my drive kicked left into the rough,” he said. “It was very tough today.”
Thongchai, meanwhile, soared up the leaderboard with six birdies in the last seven holes.
“It was really windy today and it was not easy, but I just concentrated on keeping the ball on the fairway and I putted very well on the back nine,” said the Thai star.
Peter Hanson of Sweden finished fifth on 13-under 267 after a 68 while Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell also had a 68 for sixth place on 11-under 269.
South Africa’s Trevor Immelman (67) was joint seventh with four others on 10-under 270 while Canada’s Mike Weir – the 2003 Masters champion – finished a shot further back in joint 12th position after a 71.