Bourdy soaks up bubbly on 'best day of his career'
A champagne shower from his friends and a kiss from his girlfriend was the reception awaiting Gregory Bourdy after he crushed the hopes of crowd favourite Rory McIlroy to become the first Frenchman to win the UBS Hong Kong Open yesterday.
Fellow French golfers Jean-Francois Lucquin, Christian Cevaer and Raphael Jacquelin stormed the 18th green to douse Bourdy in bubbly after he knocked in another par in a safe round of 67 to maintain the two-stroke lead he started the day with, and win the tournament.
'This is amazing. There are so many reasons to celebrate. Today is my mother's birthday, my girlfriend is here and I have made it in the Race to Dubai,' he said after his 19-under-par 261 gave him a two-shot victory.
The champagne spray was a relief for Bourdy, who was unaware that McIlroy was on the charge and had closed the gap to just one stroke.
The Hong Kong victory meant he was bound for Dubai - and not home to Bordeaux - to play in the European Tour's season-ending tournament. Bourdy had needed to finish in the top two at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
His top spot was much to the disappointment of the large gallery willing McIlroy to come from behind. But the 20-year-old Ulsterman ran out of heroics and finished second for the second consecutive year. The only difference this time was that there was no play-off.
'It is really disappointing to come up short again, but I gave it my best shot,' said McIlroy, who was pipped in the play-off last year by Taiwan's Lin Wen-tang.
Having started the day trailing Bourdy by five shots, world number 17 McIlroy chipped away at the lead, bringing it down to a solitary shot by the time he reached the 17th tee.
He had even overcome a playful dog which ran onto the green at the 14th hole when he was lining up for a putt. 'It didn't put me off my putt, but then the crowd went 'aaaahh' and I saw him scampering down the hill and I thought he was after me,' said McIlroy, smiling. 'I have never experienced that before.'
Nothing seems to faze the young gun, and his happy demeanour has won him a legion of fans on this visit, many of whom stood in the seven-deep crowd yesterday to see his round of 64.
With only two par-fives on the par-70 Composite Course at Fanling, McIlroy had to attack, knowing that Bourdy would play safe.
This left him wide open to mistakes, and he made a crucial one with a wayward approach shot on the 17th which left him 25 feet from the pin. A three-putt bogey gave Bourdy a two-shot cushion and he didn't slip up.
McIlroy said: 'I played lovely, really, really well. 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 Gregory obviously played very well.
'If I had birdied one of the last two holes, I might have given myself a chance, but that's the way it goes.'
At least he had the consolation of grabbing the top position on the European Tour's money list.
That was not the case for Bourdy's playing partner, Robert-Jan Derksen, who also needed to finish in the top two to secure a Dubai berth.
Derksen shot a 68 and finished on 264, in joint-third position with Italy's Francesco Molinari.
Bourdy, who became the first French player on the European Tour to record a victory in three consecutive seasons, refused to look at the leaderboard until he walked up the 18th fairway. 'I wanted to play my game and stay focused on that only,' he said. 'I knew if I was minus three or four, it would be enough. I didn't look at the leaderboard and I didn't know Rory was playing well.
'The key today was my tee shots. My putter was not as warm as I would have liked but I was relaxed and confident. I had a fantastic week and today was the best day of my career, for I accomplished many things.'