After four second places José Manuel Lara finally achieved his first win on the European Tour at the USB Hong Kong Open. The Spaniard led from round one and a 69 on the final day was good enough to take the title by a shot from Juvic Pagunsan.
A fine 64 from Lara in round one had given him the perfect start to the week and three rounds in the 60’s resulted in a deserved win. The 29-year-old took a two-shot lead into the final round but some great attacking golf from rookie Pagunsan meant the pair were level entering the back nine. The closing stages provided great drama as Pagunsan took the lead on the 11th and Lara responded with a birdie on 13. Pagunsan’s superb putting display continued as he holed out for a birdie at 14 to regain the lead, but a poor tee shot on 16 produced a bogie. Lara remained calm and made a birdie on the same hole to go one ahead. This two-shot swing proved key and two pars on 17 and 18 were enough for Lara to take the title.
A delighted Lara received congratulations from past champion Miguel Angel Jiménez who was greenside to support his fellow Spaniard.
?Miguel knew today was a tough day for me,? said Lara. ?I have been close many times and he knew that. He said to me forget about everything and you are alone on the course. I tried to stay in my bubble and it was a great day.?
?You wouldn’t believe the number of people who ask me when will I win. Now I can say I have. This is a very important moment in my life. Winning and leading every day.?
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh was also celebrating after his third place finish clinched the Asian Tour’s 2006 UBS Order of Merit title.