Borrowed putter helps Park to victory in HK PGA Championship
Unho Park would be the first to admit it's the little decisions in golf that often make the biggest impact after the Singapore-based Australian rode a borrowed putter to victory at the HK$400,000 Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship yesterday.
Park, 38, sealed a one-stroke victory at the Kau Sai Chau Golf Club with an 18-foot birdie putt and then said he hoped the decision to cast away his own putter on the final day in favour of a friend's would spark a change in fortune in his year - and in his career.
'Golf is a funny game in that small things can change everything,' said Park, who claimed the HK$72,000 first prize with an even-par 72 for a two-over 216 total. He finished one stroke ahead of his playing partner Guido van der Valk after the pair went to the last hole tied in first place.
'I missed the last six cuts last year and the first six this year, so I am hoping my luck has finally changed. For the first two days my putting let me down. I thought coming here today I had nothing to lose so I borrowed a putter from my friend, who is also my caddy, and the putts just fell all day.'
The Asian Tour veteran now heads to the Queen's Cup at Koh Samui, Thailand, after finishing with two birdies that took him to victory at the first time of asking in Hong Kong.
He said the testing event - which takes players to three courses over three days - had given him confidence. 'Mentally it's a real challenge, especially coming in here blind having not played the event before,' said Park, who turned pro in 1997 and had 10 titles to his name going into the Hong Kong event.
'From the Hong Kong Golf Club, to Discovery Bay and then to here today you really have to be on your game as the conditions change so it tests you every inch of the way.
'Winning today has given me a real lift and I hope I can continue with confidence for the rest of the year.'
Van der Valk picked up the HK$49,000 runner-up cheque for the second year in a row. He said: 'In those situations there is nothing you can do but make your own putt and I didn't - simple as that. I just hit it a little too hard and away the ball went,' the Manila-based 32-year-old said of his birdie attempt on the last.
Leading the way for the local golfers was Wong Woon-man, who finished outright third on four-over 218.
'It's my best finish at this event so I am happy,' said the 31-year-old. 'Third place is a good finish.'
Australia's 1990 US PGA Championship winner Wayne Grady had to be content with a share of sixth place after finishing at seven-over 221.