World No. 2 Rory McIlroy sealed the US$2.75 million UBS Hong Kong Open yesterday 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.
A final-round 65 clinched a two-stroke victory for the Northern Irishman and the winner’s check of US$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 this week.
McIlroy has collected 3,066,605 euros (US$4.1 million) for the season to world No. 1 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.
The 22-year-old 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.
After finding the sand next to the 18th green with his approach shot, McIlory blasted up, out and into the hole to thunderous applause, while pumping his fists in celebration.
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 yesterday 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.
Quiros, who had led or shared the lead in the event for all three days coming into yesterday, 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.