Aaron Rai held off fellow Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick to win the Honma Hong Kong Open by a single shot and claim his first European Tour title.
Aaron Rai wins Honma Hong Kong Open
23-year-old Aaron Rai never lost the lead on Sunday but he saw his six-shot advantage cut to a single stroke by Matt Fitzpatrick during a thrilling final-round battle in persistent rain at Hong Kong Golf Club.
Fitzpatrick, five times a winner on the European Tour, made seven birdies in his first 16 holes to put the pressure on Rai, but his challenge faltered when he stumbled to a first bogey of the day at the 17th to give Rai a two-shot cushion with one hole remaining.
Although he made a bogey at the 18th, Rai signed for a closing 69 to finish on 17-under and secure his maiden European Tour victory in just his 46th appearance on the circuit.
“It definitely hasn’t sunk in just yet. I’ll probably need a few days for that to happen, he said. ”It’s incredible to win on any Tour, let alone The European Tour and let alone the Hong Kong Open. It’s an incredible course, incredible event, very well supported. The crowds have been amazing. I’m just very grateful. Matt played incredibly all day. It was tough but again, 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.”
Fitzpatrick’s brilliant 64 saw him finish alone in second place on 16 under, with Challenge Tour graduate Victor Perez and Australian Jason Scrivener five shots further back in a tie for third place.
“Obviously it was disappointing on the 17th there, such a simple bogey, said Fitzpatrick. “But I gave it a good go. It was always going to be tough to beat him. The last two days he’s been very solid and not given anything away, which made my life more difficult.”
Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi
Hong Kong GC, Fanling, Hong Kong
Purse: $2,000,000 Par: 70
1 Aaron Rai (Eng) 65 61 68 69 263 €292,343
2 Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 62 68 64 264 €194,896
T3 Victor Perez (Fra) 71 65 66 67 269 €98,755
T3 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 65 69 67 68 269 €98,755
5 David Drysdale (Sco) 68 69 67 66 270 €74,373
T6 Rafa Cabrera Bello (Esp) 72 69 67 63 271 €52,622
T6 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 69 68 67 67 271 €52,622
T6 Sergio Garcia (Esp) 70 67 64 70 271 €52,622
T9 Kim Koivu (Fin) 69 67 69 67 272 €33,012
T9 Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 66 67 72 67 272 €33,012
T9 Matthias Schwab (Aut) 69 69 66 68 272 €33,012
T9 Jake Higginbottom (Aus) 69 65 69 69 272 €33,012
T9 Scott Hend (Aus) 68 66 69 69 272 €33,012
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage