McIlroy wins Hong Kong Open


World number two Rory McIlroy sealed the US$2.75 million UBS Hong Kong Open Sunday by holing a birdie chip from a bunker on the last, keeping alive his slim hopes of denying Luke Donald an historic Order of Merit double.
“I think that’s the most excited I’ve ever been on a golf course,” said the 22-year-old. “It was just incredible to see the ball drop and realise that I had won this tournament.”
A final-round 65 clinched a two-stroke victory for the Northern Irishman and the winner’s cheque of $458,330 means the US Open champion still has a chance of overtaking current Race to Dubai leader Donald with victory at the season-ending Dubai World Championship next week.
McIlroy has collected 3,066,605 euros ($4,110,477) for the season to world number one-ranked Donald’s 3,856,394 euros. The event in Dubai is worth just over 930,000 euros to the winner.
Englishman Donald, who has already won the US PGA Tour money list, skipped the Hong Kong event as did Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who had been placed second in the Race to Dubai until McIlroy’s heroics today.
“Everything’s dependent on Luke because he has got such a big lead but that was one of my intentions going out today, to win this tournament to keep myself in with a shout next week,” said McIlroy.
“Another bit of motivation was I woke up this morning and saw Lee Westwood had shot 62 at the event in Sun City [South Africa] and I thought I really needed to win to stay about him in the world rankings. So it was nice to be able to do both.”
McIlroy had started the final round three-strokes behind overnight leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain but five birdies over the course, three coming while the pressure was building in the run-in to the clubhouse, ensured victory for a player who had finished runner-up here in both 2008 and 2009.
“If feels like it has been a long time coming,” he said. “I played my first Hong Kong Open in 2007 and I felt like it owed me something after losing the playoff [to Taiwan’s Lin Wen-Tang] in 2008. To get my hands on this trophy and to win this tournament is very special.”
After finding the sand next to the 18th green with his approach shot, McIlroy blasted up, out and into the hole to thunderous applause while pumping his fists in celebration.
He had earlier announced via Twitter that he had brushed off the ailment that had been bothering him all week thanks to “11.5 hours sleep and a 5km run” and he returned shortly after finishing his round to declare to his followers “Winner winner chicken dinner”.
“I’ve not been feeling well all week so I went down this morning and got a really good sweat up,” said McIlroy. “It seemed to work.”
McIlroy had certainly been looking fragile over the first three days of this event – which is co-sanctioned by both the European and Asian Tours – but his stamina was never in doubt today and a birdie on the par-five second set him off in just the right mood.
France’s Gregory Havret finished in second place on 10-under-par after a storming five-under 65 while Sweden’s Peter Hanson was placed third on nine-under after closing with an even-par 70.
“I had a chance going into the last one behind Rory,” said the 35-year-old Havret. “But I made a bad drive and in the end it was very hard just to make par. My putt for par was a beauty so now I’ll have some champagne and I am quite happy.”
Reigning champion Ian Poulter was left to rue his luck on the greens after charging home with a bogey-free four-under 66 to finish tied for fourth at eight under with Scotland’s Richie Ramsey and Pariya Junhasavasdikul.
“I came to defend and I’ve come up shy,” said Poulter. “I thought I had a chance today. I got off to a very good start with birdies at two and three and had pretty much a sackful of chances from there on in. I’m walking away disappointed.”
Quiros, who had led or shared the lead in the event for all three days coming into Sunday, faded with a three-over 74 to finish on seven under and joint-seventh.
Juvic Pagunsan’s six-under for the tournament was enough for 10th place and sealed him the Asian Tour Order of Merit, the first time a player from the Philippines has won the title.
“I’m really surprised,” said the 33-year-old. “Everyone dreams to get an Order of Merit and I really wasn’t expecting to win it this year.”