Jimenez makes European Tour history

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez on Sunday became the oldest winner in European Tour history.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Only seven weeks away from his 49th birthday, Jimenez took the UBS Hong Kong Open for a third time with a one-stroke victory over Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed.

The former Ryder Cup player's 19th Tour title - and 12th since he turned 40 - came without a single bogey in his last 54 holes.

He finished with a 65 for 15 under par, Andersson Hed's 64 having an agonising climax when a 12-foot birdie attempt on the last dribbled down the slope and lipped out.

Australian Marcus Fraser was third and joint fourth came Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Scot Stephen Gallacher and 19-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, last week's Singapore Open champion.

New Zealander Michael Campbell, joint overnight leader with Jimenez, fell away to joint eighth.

With a cigar in one hand and glass of red wine in the other, the 48-year-old Spaniard toasted his victory. This was his third win at the event - all since he turned 40.

"It's always an honour to make records and I hope it's not the last one," said the Malaga golfer, nine months older than Ireland's Des Smyth was when he lifted the 2001 Madeira Islands Open.

"I really love this place. You have to control the ball very well - it's not a matter of distance - and I played very solid all through the week."

With 19 Tour victories now there are only 10 players who have ever won more on the circuit than the former caddie, who turned professional in 1982 and had to wait a decade for his first success.

He was Seve Ballesteros's vice-captain at the 1997 Ryder Cup, went on to win four caps and in September was one of Jose Maria Olazabal's assistants for the victory in Chicago.

Campbell was hoping for a first win in seven years, but after an opening birdie he fell back and a double bogey six on the 18th for a 72 dropped him to joint eighth.

And when Andersson Hed missed his birdie shot, it meant Jimenez's eight closing pars were good enough to give him the £208,084 first prize with a 15 under par aggregate of 265. He has almost £16million in career earnings as a result.

He birdied the long third, then took control with four more in a row from the seventh.

The third of them was the most impressive, a five-wood approach to Fanling's hardest hole finishing only two feet from the flag.

Third place went to Australian Marcus Fraser, while joint fourth were Ireland's Peter Lawrie, Scot Stephen Gallacher and 19-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero.

"I think it was probably the best I've ever played under pressure when you're in this situation and you can win a tournament. But unfortunately I couldn't get it all the way there, but close," said Andersson Hed, according to the Asian Tour.

"It was a pity I couldn't get one of the putts on the last two holes to put a little bit more pressure on Miguel on the last hole. He did fantastic, though so all credit to Miguel," added the Swede.

Having climbed to the top of the merit rankings with his finish, Fraser described his week in Hong Kong as one of his best after having to endure an indifferent form of late.

"I felt like I played pretty ordinary the last three weeks. And then my coach came up this week and turned my game around straightaway. It's nice to be able to do that on the course, as well, and have a really good week. I couldn't be happier," said Fraser.

A week on from his third Tour victory at the Singapore Open Manassero was right in the thick of things until a six at the long 13th and he dropped another shot at the last to finish four back.

The event also brought joy and agony for those fighting to keep their Tour cards.

The agony belonged to Welshman Rhys Davies, who had to stay 119th on the money list to avoid a return to the qualifying school, but came only 51st and slipped to 120th when Australian Andrew Dodt, having dropped five shots on the front nine, birdied three of the last six.

It lifted Dodt from 122nd to 117th, put England's Richard Bland 118th and South African Tjaart Van der Walt 119th a mere £83 ahead of Davies.

Bland, who came 69th, and Van der Walt, who missed the cut, were not safe, though. There was still the South African Open to come later in the day before the issue was decided.



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