Australian Sam Brazel birdied the last to claim a dramatic one-shot victory over Rafa Cabrera-Bello at the UBS Hong Kong Open – the 37-year-old’s first European Tour title.
Brazel had entered the final day at Hong Kong Golf Club in a share of the lead with Ryder Cup star Cabrera-Bello, but the duo dropped shots on the front nine, setting the scene for an exciting finish.
Masters winner Danny Willett had come into round four six shots behind but five birdies meant he held the lead on the final afternoon before a bogey on the 17th. That dropped shot left six players in a tie for top spot but a hat-trick of birdies from the 11th got Brazel to 12 under and, when Cabrera-Bello birdied the 16th and 17th to join him, it was all set to come down the last.
The Spaniard is used to playing under pressure, winning 2½ points from three matches for Europe at Hazeltine earlier this year, but it was world No 480 Brazel who kept his cool, putting his approach to eight feet to make just the second birdie of the day on the closing hole and get to 13 under.
Brazel was visibly emotional as he lifted the trophy and he credited a new set of clubs with helping get him over the line – and collect the winner’s prize of $333,330.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been playing good but it’s been a bit of a struggle with the old irons but I got set up with a new set of clubs, and it’s all sort of turned around,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I got the shot into the last straight out of the middle but I’m pretty stoked where it finished, I’ll tell you.
“I still had some nerves on the first tee today, but I settled in pretty quickly. It wasn’t as bad as yesterday. I had a great playing partner in Rafa. I was stoked to play with him for the last two days. It was a thrill to be out there the last few days and I hope that continues and I have a lot more days like this in the future. I am really looking forward to getting over to Europe and playing on the European Tour. It will be a great privilege.”
Cabrera-Bello parred the last to finish second at 12 under, a shot ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Australian Andrew Dodt.
Cabrera-Bello said: “I managed to start good again but then struggled halfway through the front nine. I battled back really hard again, same as yesterday. But then Sam just played a fantastic 18th hole.
“In the end, it’s a good week. It’s just a bitter taste finishing runner-up.”
American David Lipsky was the other player to have held the lead on the final day and he finished at ten under, one shot in front of Willett.
Stephen Gallacher closed with a 71 to finish on four under while fellow Scot David Drysdale was well down the field on three over after a 72.