Honma Hong Kong Open

Agony again as Rafa Cabrera Bello misses the prize for second straight year

Spaniard comes close but lets himself down on the 18th hole as he settles for joint second place at Fanling

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017, 6:14pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 11:33am

Rafa Cabrera Bello had to pull off a Rory McIlroy shot for victory at the UBS Hong Kong Open but victory at Fanling eluded him for the second straight year after a bogey on the 18th left him in a four-way tie for second on Sunday.

In 2016, Cabrera Bello missed a birdie putt on the 18th that would have put him in a play-off with winner Sam Brazel, of Australia.

On Sunday, he needed to hole out from the front bunker for victory, and when he couldn’t do that he left himself an eight-foot par putt to force a play-off. That also didn’t come as the Spaniard finished on one-under-par 69 for a four-round total of 10-under 270 – a stroke behind another Australian, Wade Ormsby.

Cabrera hit an aggressive eight-iron approach shot straight at the pin but instead found the bunker. In 2011, Northern Ireland’s McIlroy holed from the bunker to win the tournament and Cabrera faced a similar situation, but it was not to be.

“My thoughts were just shot by shot,” said the 24-year-old Cabrera Bello, who has three European Tour wins and is ranked 20th in the world. “I had a good number coming in for my second shot. I took an aggressive line and I knew it was tight but it was only about a yard away from being a really, really good shot. Unfortunately, it rolled back into the bunker.

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“It was not that difficult of a bunker shot in a normal scenario but obviously on the last hole to force a play-off, I didn’t want to overdo it or over hit it and give myself an uphill putt to force a play-off.

“But I left it a little bit short and missed the putt.”

Cabrera Bello had been consistent throughout the tournament, with scores of 69, 68 and a brilliant six-under-par 64 on Saturday, when he hit an eagle on the par-four 10th.

However, at the start of Sunday’s round it appeared as if he was out of the running as early as the par-five third hole, which he bogeyed.

He then parred the rest of the front nine and the 10th before making a move on the leaders.

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Birdies on the 11th, 13th and 17th meant that he needed a birdie on the final hole to beat Ormsby.

But, for the second year in a row, the Spaniard had to settle for a share of second. Alongside Cabrera Bello at 10-under were Americans Julian Suri and Paul Peterson and Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to win,” said Cabrera Bello, who said before the tournament that the Hong Kong Open was popular among Spanish golfers because of previous successes by four-time champion Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal.