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UBS Hong Kong Open 2015

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Major winners series: Greg Norman, Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer

Three more greats who have won in Hong Kong and have collected one of golf's prized tournaments

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 October, 2015, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 October, 2015, 3:27pm

The four majors – the Open Championship, the Masters, the US Open, and the US PGA Championship – are acknowledged as the pinnacles of achievement in the game of golf. Win there and your name is etched into the pantheon of all-time greats.

READ MORE: Major winners series: Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Orville Moody

Over the years, the UBS Hong Kong Open has had the privilege of hosting a procession of major winners at Fanling, and 10 of them have managed to carve themselves a slice of history out this way, too.

We already profiled Peter Thomson, Kel Nagle and Orville Moody. Here are the next three, out of the 10 we will highlight, who have also added a Hong Kong Open (or sometimes more) to their collection.

 

Greg Norman

Nationality: Australian

HK Open winner in: 1979, 1983

Majors won: Open Championship in 1986, 1993

The story: When the man who would become known as The Great White Shark first came to town he had only been a pro for three years, but already Greg Norman’s talent had ensured he was making headlines. Ninety tournament wins would follow, including two Open Championships to go with eight seconds combined in other ajors. In 1979 – at the age of 24 – Norman came through the rain on the final day, turning a three-shot deficit into a three-shot win iced by a 14-footer for birdie on the last in front of a huge gallery. The US$100,000 first prize was at the time the biggest collect of his career.

The rain was at it again in 1983 – the tournament was reduced to two rounds across the weekend – but it seemed as though Norman didn’t notice. A 68 on the Saturday left him three strokes behind Japan’s Seiichi Kanai turning into the final day, and a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th gave Norman the outright lead. Norman saved par on the 18th with a chip from the bunker to within eight feet, while Kanai found the water – and was done.

In his words: “I was very happy with my play. I think I played with a lot more sense than I normally do.” (on winning in 1983)

 

Ian Woosnam

Nationality: Welsh

HK Open winner in: 1987

Majors won: US Masters in 1991

The story: Packing unlimited power into his 5ft 4in frame, Ian Woosnam’s win at the 1991 US Masters is the stuff of legend. The first Welshman to win a major, he held off Spain’s Jose Maria Olazabal and Tom Watson down the stretch, holding his nerve over a five-footer for par on the last after seeing those two far more fancied players blow their chances, after finding the sand around the 18th. It sparked off wild celebrations back home in Wales. Woosie would be ranked  number one in the world in 1991 – and by the end of his career had collected 52 titles – and fans here knew full well the success that lay in store after seeing him capture the Hong Kong title in 1987.

On the eve of his 29th birthday, Woosnam fired a two-under 69 on the final day at Fanling to win the title by four shots ahead of Irishman David Feherty and Scotland’s Sam Torrance, making him the first Briton to win the Hong Kong Open. It all happened on St David’s Day too – the patron saint of Wales - and Woosnam left the course promising he’d party hard on the flight home. Said the beaten Feherty: “Woosnam has the heart of a lion.”

In his words: “I'm very honoured to be the first British player to win here. I thought David was going to catch me, but I struggled through and managed to hold on.”

 

Bernhard Langer

Nationality: German

HK Open winner in: 1991

Majors won: US Masters in 1985 and 1993

The story: German sensation Bernhard Langer was at the height of his powers in 1991. Langer had already been crowned Masters champion in 1985 – thanks to a two-stroke win over the multiple major-winning trio of Seve Ballesteros, Raymond Floyd and Curtis Strange – and in 1986, when the global ranking system was inaugurated, he was installed as the first world number one.

A second Masters would follow in 1993 – this time a four-stroke win over Chip Beck – but before that came Fanling and, let’s say the obvious, a masterclass from the German. Patched up by the tournament’s medical staff following back trouble, the yips that would shadow Langer’s career were nowhere to be seen as he fired an eight-birdie final round of 63 to win by seven strokes from South Korean Choi Sang-ho and Taiwan’s Lu Wen-ter. The highlights were a chip in for birdie on the par-five ninth and a nerveless nine-foot putt for birdie on the last.

In his words: “I was pretty close to pulling out. I tried not to be too aggressive and not do anything silly and I played well, putted well and chipped well.”