David Drysdale started his 18th season on the European Tour by finishing fifth in the Honma Hong Kong Open, which saw Englishman Aaron Rai hold off a last-day charge from compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick for a wire-to-wire win at Fanling.
Drysdale signed off with a four-under-par 66 in miserable wet conditions to jump seven spots on the last day, finishing with a 10-under-par 270 total - seven behind Rai as the 23-year-old from Wolverhampton secured his maiden success on the circuit.
It was Drysdale’s best finish since claiming third spot in the Belgian Knockout last May and best effort in a 72-hole stroke play event since finishing joint-fourth behind Jon Rahm in the 2017 Irish Open.
“It is a great start to the 2019 campaign,” admitted the 43-year-old from Cockburnspath. “It was tough today as it rained from start to finish, but I hung in there and played solid, as had pretty much been the case all week.”
Drysdale, who has wife, Vicky, caddying for him again this season, started the final round with a bogey but then birdied the third and fourth to be out in 33.
He then began the journey home with three birdies in four holes before closing with five straight pars.
“I played good golf from tee to green and it was nice to see a few putts drop,” he added. “The key for 2019 is working on a positive attitude and staying patient. I am trying not to get frustrated at bad shots, which was the key this week.”
The effort earned Drysdale, who finished 107th in Race to Dubai last season, having been 56th the year before, a cheque for around £66,000.
After starting the final round alongside Drysale, Bob MacIntyre slipped to joint-57th on his European Tour debut following a 75.
The 22-year-old left-hander from Oban was on course for a top-10 finish after picking up two shots in the opening four holes and had gone 46 holes without dropping a shot.
However, five bogeys and a double-bogey in the last 13 holes undid some of his good work earlier in the week, which had included a four-under 66 on Saturday.
“Enjoyed my first event on the European Tour,” wrote MacIntyre, one of four Scottish newcomers on the circuit this season, on Twitter. “Got to take the positives,” he added of that run without a dropped shot.
MacIntyre picked up a cheque for close to £4500 while Grant Forrest earned just over £10,000 as the 25-year-old from North Berwick finished in a share of 36th position following a last-day 69 and a three-under total.
David Law and Liam Johnston, the two other new card holders, finished 71st and 72nd respectively after a tough weekend for both of them.
Aberdonian Law signed off with efforts of 73 and 72 while Dumfries man Johnston carded closing scores of 72 and 75.
Rai, who led by six shots at the start of play, saw that reduced to just one by Fitzpatrick, who signed off with a stunning 64, during a thrilling final-round tussle.
“It’s incredible,” said the winner, who set up his success with a course-record 61 i8n the second round. “It definitely hasn’t sunk in just yet. I’ll probably need a few days for that to happen.
“Matt played incredibly all day. I really just tried to play the course as much as possible, rather than Matt, or anyone else who was playing well today.
“I luckily managed to do that for most of the way around. It’s tough considering the situation, but I’m very pleased.”