Australian Brazel dazzles to win Hong Kong Open
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Australian journeyman Sam Brazel prevailed in a tense final hole shoot-out with runnerup Rafa Cabrera Bello to win the Hong Kong Open by a stroke and capture his first European Tour title on Sunday.
The 480th-ranked Brazel struck a sublime approach shot from 175 yards to within eight feet of the flag and calmly rolled in the winning birdie after his Spanish rival missed a longer putt by inches on a glorious afternoon at Fanling.
Doused with champagne and mobbed by his caddy and friends, Brazel's victory in the co-sanctioned event earned the 37-year-old 311,844 euros ($329,000) and a two-year exemption on the Tour.
"It's been a long time coming but yeah, stoked," said an overwhelmed Brazel, cradling the trophy after shooting a two-under 68 to finish with a 13-under total of 267.
"I'd love to come over to Europe, it'd be a great privilege."
Fellow Australian Andrew Dodt finished third on 11-under with Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, while U.S. Masters champion Danny Willett shot a 66 to finish sixth.
Joint overnight leader with Cabrera Bello, Brazel fell off the pace with bogeys on the sixth and ninth holes but played flawlessly on the back nine.
He drained three successive birdies from the 11th to roar back into contention and jostled with a group of five at the top of a crowded leaderboard over the closing holes.
Cabrera Bello's hopes of a first European title in four years appeared bleak early after he dropped three strokes on the seventh and eighth holes. Continued...