AS JUSTIN Rose lived up to his billing as pre-tournament favourite by winning the UBS Hong Kong Open, the regular phase of the European Tour season ended with seven Scots having secured their cards again for the 2016 campaign.
Rose carded a final round of 68 in Fanling to finish 17 under par, one shot clear of Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, American Patrick Reed, Australia’s Jason Scrivener and South Korea’s Lee Soomin joint third on 11 under. “I’m very happy to get the job done,” said Rose after claiming his eighth European Tour title and first since he landed the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen in 2014.
Tied for the lead with Bjerregaard – the pair were four shots clear over the chasing pack – heading into the final round, former US Open champion Rose found himself two shots behind with nine holes to play.
But, as Bjerregaard was left to rue a back nine of 37 which featured wild drives on the 11th, 13th and 14th, Rose could afford to three-putt the 18th for only his third bogey of the week, mocking his timid par attempt by performing a chicken impression.
“Lucas played incredible golf,” said Rose. “It’s probably a tough one for him to lose. But he didn’t lose it; just both of us played incredibly well.”
Following a last-round 66, David Drysdale finished as leading Scot in joint-18th on seven-under, leapfrogging Thai-based Simon Yates after he closed with a 73 to slip back to a share of 42nd on two-under. The effort lifted Drysdale to 88th in the Race to Dubai, capping a splendid four weeks for the 40-year-old from Cockburnspath after he went into the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship lying outside the top 120 and fighting for his future.
Making a Lazarus-like recovery after coming home in a wheelchair after tearing his right calf muscle getting out of a bunker in the Italian Open, Drysdale won close to £100,000 in the final month of the regular campaign to secure his card for the main circuit for the eighth season in a row. Agonisingly, though, he came up one place short in his bid to make the field for the opening “Final Series” event, meaning that unless Drysdale comes off the reserve list, it will be left to Marc Warren, Richie Ramsay and Stephen Gallacher to fly the Saltire in the Turkish Airlines Open starting in Belek on Thursday.
Along with Englishman Matt Ford, who leapt from 117th to 106th with a top-ten finish, Craig Lee (101st), Paul Lawrie (102nd) and Scott Jamieson (107th) can all now start planning for next season after wrapping up their cards.