Jimenez keeps up Hong Kong Open dominance

Bjorn wins Nedbank Golf Challenge at 20 under

Miguel Angel Jimenez embraces the Hong Kong Open trophy on Sunday after winning the event for the fourth time in his career. Ian Walton / Getty Images
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A month shy of his 50th birthday, ageless Miguel Angel Jimenez won the Hong Kong Open on Sunday for the fourth time after winning a three-way play-off on the first hole to secure the victory.

Jimenez defended the title he won last year and became the oldest player to win on the European Tour after sinking an 18-foot birdie on the first extra hole. He defeated Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Stuart Manley of Wales.

“It just gets better and better. I love Hong Kong and this course,” said Jimenez, who extended his record as the oldest player to win on the tour to 49 years and 337 days.

“This is my fourth and it was my hardest. When you need to play a play-off, you need to play one more hole, and against two guys also trying to win is hard. But my experience paid off.”

The victory, which followed on from his successes at the venue in 2004, 2007 and 2012, was his 20th career win on the European Tour, bringing the Spaniard to within one of Scotland’s Sam Torrance.

“I just love this course,” he said. “It is an old-fashioned course where accuracy off the tee counts. You have to control the ball here.”

The trio finished regulation at 12 under. Meesawat produced a 5-under 65 that included eagles on the third and 13th holes, which pushed him into the lead for most of the last day.

The Thai was playing ahead of Jimenez and Manley, and he took the clubhouse lead to watch nervously as first Jimenez and then Manley, who had led going into the final round, caught up with him.

“I was very pleased with my round,” Meesawat said. “But I had a few chances to collect a couple more birdies. Unfortunately they fell short and in the play-off I had a bad approach shot.”

Jimenez knocked in a birdie on the 17th and then Manley holed a clutch, last-gasp chip for a birdie on the 18th to force his way into the three-way play-off.

Jimenez found the green on the first play-off hole, while Manley and Meesawat missed. Jimenez coolly knocked in an 18-foot birdie put to secure the victory.

Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands finished in fourth place at 11 under.

Jimenez’s fourth Hong Kong title matched the event record held by Taiwan’s Hsieh Yong Yo, who won the tournament in 1963, 1964, 1975 and 1978.

“I turn 50 next month, but I’m still fit,” the Spaniard said. “I stretch every morning. You have to do this to keep up with the younger lot.”

Eagles help Bjorn soar in Sun City

A pair of eagles helped Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn pull away on Sunday to win the US$1.25 million (Dh4.6 million) first prize at the Nedbank Golf Challenge at 20 under.

Bjorn made eagles at the 10th and 14th to finish with a 7-under 65 and a two-stroke victory, shrugging off a spirited challenge from Spaniard Sergio Garcia and overnight leader Jamie Donaldson of Wales.

Donaldson, who shot 70, and Garcia, with a 65, tied for second at Gary Player Country Club.

Bjorn started the day three shots behind Donaldson, while Garcia started the last round five off the pace, but surged into contention with six birdies on the front nine.

Garcia’s birdie at the 14th brought him level with Bjorn at 18 under, but the Dane immediately responded with his second eagle of the round to take a two-shot lead he never relinquished.

“The hole owed me from yesterday. I hit it in a divot and made six. Golf is funny in that way,” Bjorn said.

A bogey for Garcia at the 16th effectively ended his challenge.

“I tried to be aggressive all day and drove the ball well,” Garcia said. “I had one bad swing on 16. But Thomas played unbelievably and I needed to keep birdieing if I was to have a chance.”

Donaldson, who led for two-and-a-half days, played steadily until the ninth, where he dropped a shot and saw his lead cut to one before Bjorn overtook him one hole later. But the Welshman went back into a tie for second place with Garcia after birdie on the 17th.

World No 3 Henrik Stenson, who won the European Tour 2013 finale last month in Dubai, finished fourth after a 67.