Han bags Order of Merit title after Norquist challenge fizzles out
When Burma's Kyi Hla Han was greeted by American Gerry Norquist at the end of his round and the pair shook hands, Han knew he had fulfilled a dream.
Han was officially declared the Davidoff Order of Merit winner after firing a three-under-par 69 at the half-way stage of the US$500,000 Omega PGA Championship at the Mission Hills Golf Club yesterday.
The 38-year-old Hong Kong-based golfer clinched the title after Norquist faltered yet again by returning a one-over-par 73 to add to the 77 he carded on Thursday.
Norquist failed to make the cut by five, meaning the Order of Merit title has automatically been handed to Han, who now has an unassailable lead.
'It's kind of a relief but I still got two days to go and I am in a position of winning this one to finish the year on a high,' said Han, who is six shots off the pace.
'After the round today Gerry congratulated me on what a great year I have had. He said he looked forward to catching up with me in Europe next year.
'I'm tired and I'm sure Gerry is also tired. It has been a long year. Last month, the pressure was on me but coming into this tournament, I felt more relaxed,' he said.
'My goal was to win the Merit title but I only had that goal in mind when I won the Volvo China Open in May.
'That win really pushed my confidence and I was playing with a positive attitude.' Han's victory will be celebrated in his native Burma and he he will probably qualify for next year's British Open among other big European tournaments, although he quipped: 'I hope the income tax people over there [Burma] don't hear about this!' Meanwhile, Filipino Felix Casas took a two-stroke lead after firing a six-under-par 66.
Van Rensburg was joint second with American Eric Meeks, who returned the best score of the tournament so far - a sizzling seven-under-par 65. Rensburg carded a four-under-par 68, while South Korea's Anthony Kang and American Fran Quinn were in joint fourth position after the pair carded 67s.
Casas, who finished joint fourth at last month's Perrier Hong Kong Open, revealed that a daily dose of stretching and therapy was the reason behind his new-found success.
'Everyday before I go out to play, I do a lot of stretching exercises. I do the same routine when I finish and I think it has really improved my game,' said the 33-year-old Filipino, who has an aggregate of 133.