18th-hole meltdown robs Karlsson of victory
There was no smile and no celebration. The famed 18th hole at the Hong Kong Golf club had just claimed another victim and Miguel Angel Jimenez found no reason to rejoice.
Three years after winning his first Hong Kong Open - thanks to a last-hole meltdown by South African James Kingston - Jimenez found himself in another horror show. This time Swede Robert Karlsson 'did a Kingston', double bogeying Fanling's signature hole after 'fluffing' a chip to hand the trophy to Jimenez.
The Spaniard also played his part in prolonging the agony by three-putting, giving Karlsson a glimmer of hope when all seemed lost.
Jimenez ended up winning by one shot at 15-under after a final-round three-under 67. Karlsson (72) fell back into a tie with KJ Choi and Thongchai Jaidee for second.
'That was the dark part,' said Jimenez, 43, who collected $375,000 for the win. 'I felt for Robert, the way he finished.
'I feel happy,' he said later, 'but sorry for him. Someone has to win. When I won here in 2004 it was also a dramatic finish.'
The cigar-chomping Spaniard, who has played on the European Tour for 21 years, has not won since the Wales Open in 2005 but could not put his finger on the reason for the drought. He finished 21st on the order of merit in 2007, with winnings of more than Euro1 million (HK$11.4 million). 'You have to hit it close and hole putts to win and this time it came to be. It's a special feeling when you win a tournament.'
And the UBS Hong Kong Open is even more special.
'I like this golf course very much,' he said. 'It's an old-fashioned course, a beautiful design. You have to play well from the tee and it's not easy to hit those greens. And I like it hot. I am like a fish in water when it's hot.'
Jimenez will head to Mission Hills today where he will play in the Omega World Cup. He will be partnered by Jose Manuel Lara, the 2006 UBS Hong Kong Open winner, who missed the cut at the weekend.
Karlsson, who played almost flawless golf over the first three days to lead by four shots starting yesterday's final round, was far from disheartened.
'I am very happy with the way things have gone this week,' said Karlsson. 'On the 18th we were right in between clubs. I wanted to hit it really close. I got a really bad lie in the rough down there. But I would never expect Miguel to three-putt. Miguel hit a lot of good putts.
'I did what I could, but I don't know what I would have done differently. A couple of decisions at the end of the day cost me a couple of shots. I hit close enough to the pins but when I hit good putts they just didn't go in.
'At the end of the day he beat me fair and square.'
Choi did best of the PGA Tour stars who came to the open. South African Trevor Immelman shot a 67 to finish at 10-under, along with Daniel Chopra (70). Mike Weir bogeyed two of the first three holes and was never a contender, finishing with a one-over 71 to finish equal 12th, six shots behind Jimenez.