A three-man playoff was needed to settle the Hong Kong Open. The oldest man of the trio, Miguel Angel Jimenez, stole the title to break his own European Tour record. Here are 5 Things to Know from the Hong Kong Open.
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1. MATURING WITH AGE: Like fine rioja, Jimenez just seems to get better as he gets older. The Spaniard turned up in Hong Kong as defending champion, after setting a record the previous year as the European Tour’s oldest winner.
He was 48 years and 318 days old when he won the 2012 event, beating Des Smyth’s record as oldest Euro Tour winner. (Irishman Smyth was 48 years and 34 days when he won the 2001 Madeira Island Open.) A year older, 49 and 337 days to be precise, Jimenez found himself in a playoff with Welshman Stuart Manley and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat.
The Spaniard promptly birdied the first extra hole when the trio returned to the 18th. It is the fourth time he has won the Hong Kong Open following other wins in 2005 and 2008.
“I make a bogey with 3‑putts on the 15th, miss my birdie on the 16 and know I have to make at least one more birdie to make a playoff or two birdies to win the tournament,” he said. “At the end, I make the birdie on the 17th, and then we three go to a playoff when Manley holed that chip on the last hole for the playoff. And then after, we have another playoff and I win in that style, makes it even more sweeter.”
Of Jimenez’s 20 European Tour victories, 13 have come in his 40s.
“It’s always important to have experience for anything in life, you know, and obviously it’s very important, but it’s not the determination to everything,” he said. “The people is very good there, they all play well.
“This is a golf course that always around this score is the winner. You want attention, you want pressure on yourself also, you feel something moving up and down, even if you have experience. The main thing of experience is I never stop telling myself, just hole‑by‑hole, calm, everything happens, live the moment.”
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2. LONG ROAD SINCE WALKER CUP: Manley was happy with his runner-up finish, but one shot better over the four rounds would have given him all sorts of breathing room over the next few seasons.
Manley has been a fringe player since he turned pro in 2003 after gaining the winning point for Great Britain & Ireland in the Walker Cup at Ganton. He’s made 10 trips to the European Tour Qualifying School since then. Four times he managed to get his card, including last year. On the other three occasions he’s not managed to crack the top 147 on the money list.
Second place gave him a check for €82,894 and moved him to ninth on the money list. Don’t expect him to stay that high, but anywhere inside the top 110 will do so he can finally keep his card.
“It will give me a lot of confidence,” Manley said. “It’s money on the board for the Order of Merit, so, yeah, everything’s positive.”
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3. DALY DOWN AND OUT: John Daly couldn’t take advantage of a sponsor’s invitation.
The two-time major champion opened with a 78 to give himself too much to do to make the cut. Daly improved by 10 shots in the second round, but still missed the weekend by six shots.
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4. PAVAN CONTINUES GOOD START: Italy’s Andrea Pavan continued his fine start to the season following finishing number one on the European Tour Challenge Tour.
The former Texas A&M player finished T-8 to earn €20,472.07. It follows an 11th place finish in last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship that earned him €25,150. The 24-year-old is three for three in cuts made for the 2014 season.
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5. GUAN FAILS TO LIVE UP TO HEADLINES: Tianlang Guan played his part in helping promote the tournament but failed to live up to his advance billing.
The 15-year-old amateur cut a cake along with Miguel Angel Jimenez, and fellow Chinese players Jason Hak and Zhang Lianwei to celebrate the tournament’s 55-year history.
However, Guan returned scores of 71 and 75 to miss the cut by six shots.