| UBS Hong Kong Open Re­view

HK Golfer - - Contents - By Louie Chan

An epic fi­nal round with var­i­ous play­ers com­ing within touch­ing dis­tance of win­ning the UBS Hong Kong Open as the Euro­pean Tour brought down the cur­tain on 2016 in dra­matic fash­ion.

Aus­tralian Sam Brazel pro­duced a stun­ning ap­proach shot to the fi­nal hole to set up the bril­liant birdie which de­feated Rafa Cabr­era Bello by one shot and se­cured his first Euro­pean Tour ti­tle at the UBS Hong Kong Open. The 37-year-old was vis­i­bly emo­tional as he lifted the tro­phy. Brazel spent years toil­ing in Aus­tralia com­pet­ing in proams to earn a liv­ing be­fore he started play­ing on the Asian Tour in 2013, writes Louie Chan.

The emo­tional Brazel cel­e­brated with his cad­die af­ter he se­cured his first Euro­pean Tour ti­tle at the

UBS Hong Kong Open

“I was very lucky. That wasn’t the great­est sec­ond shot in there but it ended up good and the rest is his­tory.” The ec­static cham­pion added, “It’s been a long time com­ing. I’ve been play­ing good. It’s just been a bit of a strug­gle with the old irons and my man, Adam, set me up with a new set of bats, and it’s all sort of turned around. This is the fruit.”

The Aus­tralian be­gan the week ranked 480th in the Of­fi­cial World Golf Rank­ing but en­tered the fi­nal day at Fanling tied at the top of the leader­board along­side Ry­der Cup star Cabr­era Bello in just his 17th Euro­pean Tour ap­pear­ance. At one point, there were six play­ers in a tie for the lead on the back nine but Brazel held off a group with 11 Euro­pean Tour ti­tles be­tween them, and an eight-foot putt on the last handed him a clos­ing 68 and a 13-un­der-par to­tal.

“I think I still had some nerves on the first tee to­day, but I set­tled in pretty quickly to­day. It wasn’t as bad as yes­ter­day. I had a great play­ing part­ner in Rafa. I was stoked to play with him for the last two days. It was a thrill to be out there the last few days and I hope that con­tin­ues and I have a lot more days like

“It’s been a long time com­ing. I’ve been play­ing good. It’s just been a bit of a strug­gle… and it’s all sort of turned around. This is the fruit.” – Sam Brazel

this in the fu­ture. I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting over to Europe and play­ing on the Euro­pean Tour. It will be a great priv­i­lege.”

Cabr­era Bello, who had been in su­perb form all week, had birded the 16th and 17th to set up a grand­stand fin­ish down the last but he could only make a par and fin­ish 12-un­der as Brazel’s in­cred­i­ble ap­proach set up just the sec­ond birdie of the day on the clos­ing hole. The 32-year-old said: “If you look at the week over­all, it has been a great week, fin­ish­ing sec­ond. Just a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed to­day. I man­aged to start good again but then strug­gled half­way through the front nine. I bat­tled back re­ally hard again, same as yes­ter­day. But then Sam just played a fan­tas­tic 18th hole.”

“Ob­vi­ously, I am still proud of the per­for­mance. I messed up a lit­tle ob­vi­ously on seven and eight but I stayed calm and waited for my chances. I gave my­self lots of op­por­tu­ni­ties. Some didn’t fall, but at the end, 16 and 17, they were two great putts that did go in. The one on 18th, al­most, as well. In the end, it’s a good week. It’s just a bit­ter taste fin­ish­ing run­ner-up.”

Brazel started the day in a share of the lead with Cabr­era Bello but the lead­ing duo both turned in two over par 36 to al­low the chas­ing pack to close the gap and set up a ti­tanic bat­tle on the back nine. Cabr­era Bello had birdied the third for the fourth time of the week and when Brazel bo­geyed the sixth af­ter find­ing the sand, the Spa­niard led by two shots.

The leader bo­geyed the sev­enth af­ter go­ing over the back of the green be­fore a poor chip on the next re­sulted in a dou­ble, and when Brazel went over the back of the ninth for a bo­gey, it was Wil­lett who led af­ter mak­ing birdies on the fourth, sixth, sev­enth, 12th and 13th.

Aus­tralian An­drew Dodt had opened with a bo­gey but turned in 34 af­ter birdies on the fourth, sixth - cour­tesy of a lengthy putt and ninth, while Amer­i­can David Lip­sky had a sin­gle birdie on the sev­enth af­ter a stun­ning ap­proach to turn in 33. English­man Tommy Fleet­wood re­cov­ered from a dou­ble-bo­gey on the third with birdies on the sev­enth and ninth and when Danny Wil­lett dropped a shot on the 17th, there was a six-way tie for the lead at nine un­der.

Dodt broke out of the pack with a birdie on the 12th but he was not alone for long as Cabr­era Bello drove the tenth, Brazel holed from eight feet on the 11th and Lip­sky put his tee-shot to the 12th to four feet. Brazel was the next man to hit the front when he put his tee-shot on the 12th to tap-in range but Dodt splashed out of a bunker to birdie the 14th and Lip­sky hit an­other bril­liant iron into the 13th.

Brazel was look­ing cool and calm, rolling in a 30-footer on the 13th to get to 12 un­der and, while Dodt joined him with a gain on the 17th, the two-time win­ner dropped a shot on the last. Cabr­era Bello had been out of sorts but he rolled in from the fringe on the 16th and when he made a 15-footer on the 17th, he and Brazel were back where they be­gan the day, tied at the top.

Birdies at the 15th and 17th got Fleet­wood to 11 un­der be­fore play­ing part­ner Lip­sky found the wa­ter on the 18th and all at­ten­tion turned back to the fi­nal group and Brazel’s big fin­ish.

Paul War­ing was at eight un­der, a shot ahead of Danny Chia and Pablo Lar­razábal, with Jorge Campillo, Mar­cus Fraser, Jbe Kruger and Ja­son Scrivener round­ing out the top ten at six un­der. What an epic fi­nal round with var­i­ous play­ers came within touch­ing dis­tance of win­ning the UBS Hong Kong Open as the Euro­pean Tour brought down the cur­tain on 2016 in dra­matic fash­ion.

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