Sam Brazel credits Hong Kong Open victory with ‘really cool’ year on the European Tour
The Australian is on a big learning curve after busy year and hopes he can again tame Fanling
Victory in last year’s UBS Hong Kong Open was life-changing for Australia’s Sam Brazel and he returns to defend his title after a year riding on the back of his big win.
It was an emotional Brazel that accepted the trophy 12 months ago, with his win a culmination of a number of tough years on and off course, including the death of his partner to bacterial meningitis in 2009.
Brazel’s success in Hong Kong earned him a two-year exemption on the European Tour and while he admits his form hasn’t been quite where he would have liked it – he started the year ranked 145th and has slipped to 266th – he has enjoyed a 2017 full of surprises.
“It’s been a really cool year based off the win here last year, a couple of WGC events – Mexico and Bridgestone [in the USA] – they were great to be part of,” the 38-year-old said.
“The Rolex Series was great to be part of, it was unfortunate to miss the final event of the year but nothing a bit of better golf wouldn’t fix.
“It’s been a pretty consistent year, a few missed cuts here and there. I’ve been learning new courses and travelling more, that’s been a big learning curve.
“Generally I have had a pretty decent year but obviously not quite where I want it to be so [another victory in Hong Kong] would be a nice way to kick off 2018.”
Brazel is realistic about his chances this week in a field featuring Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood and Olympic champion Justin Rose, but if last year taught him anything it is that he and the Fanling course are a good match.
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“I didn’t think my game was that good coming into last year, so you never know,” he said. “I think my golf game really suits the course, I am going to go out there and try to do my best, but I’m going to go out and enjoy being defending champion.
“It was just my week last year and I had a fantastic time out on the course, I’m hoping for a bit of the same this year.”