Honma Hong Kong Open

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

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 November, 2017, 9:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 12:05pm

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.

Unknown journeyman Sam Brazel shows nerves of steel then breaks down in tears after stunning Hong Kong Open win

“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.”