Ormsby joins Aussie greats with Hong Kong Open win

Wade Ormsby has joined the greats of Australian golf including Peter Thomson, the late Kel Nagle and Greg Norman to capture a maiden European Tour title with a nerve-wracking UBS Hong Kong Open victory.

The 37-year-old Adelaide-born Ormsby bogeyed the last but it was good enough in a round of a two-under par 68 for a one shot success at 11-under par and to also achieve the win in front of recently-crowned European No. 1 and playing partner, Tommy Fleetwood who posted a last day 69 to share sixth place.

Ormsby’s maiden Tour success, and in the very first event of the 2018 European Tour schedule, comes in his 264th Tour appearance while he is the second straight Australian to win in the former Colonial outpost after Sam Brazel claimed victory a year ago.

Indeed, Brazel was among the first to congratulate ‘Orms’ who is sporting a standout moustache no doubt supporting ‘Movember’.

Ormsby is also the third Australian in four years with Scott Hend winning the prestigious title in 2014.

Wade Ormsby Wade Ormsby (Credit: Asian Tour)

And the first past winner Ormsby spotted on the gleaming trophy was Norman’s name who won the event in 1979 and 1983.

Ormsby’s victory earned him a first prize cheque of €281,786 to take him straight to the top of the 2018 Race to Dubai along with the big prize of a two-year Tour exemption that is virtually a three-year exemption given the exemption is to the end of 2020.

With the event co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour, Ormsby has also moved into second on the Asian Order of Merit with earnings of $US 488,295 with the leading three players at the end of the year qualifying for the 2018 Open Championship.

Ormsby played his first season on the European Tour in 2004 after coming through the Qualifying School and he has done that four times since in a career that has also seen him struggle with injury at times.

Victory will see Ormsby leap 201 places on the World Rankings to be the new World No. 118th ranked golfer.

“It means a lot to me,” said a tearful Ormsby. “I’ve played a lot of golf in Europe, everywhere, and a few bumps along the way but it’s pretty cool to get a win this late in your career.”

“I didn’t think it would take this long but first one’s always pretty special. I said at the start of last year, I want to play a Major and win a tournament before my career is done so I’ve done both those things this year. I’m really happy about that.”

“A few of my are mates over there so that makes it pretty special, having mates around makes it all the more special. I probably won’t sleep too much on that flight on the way to Oz tonight.”

Those bumps Ormsby spoke off included unsuccessful trips to the Tour’s Q-School and the break-up of his marriage though Ormsby began showing signs this year of getting back to his best with four top-10s, including a 5th in the Andalucia Masters, to retain his Tour card by finishing 83rd on the Race To Dubai.

Ormsby went into the final day trailing a shot behind SSP Chawrasia and when he turned in level-par 34, he was four behind his Indian rival.

Chawrasia stumbled for the first time in the event taking a triple-bogeyed the ninth to bring a host of players back into contention and with Ormsby holding a two-shot lead as he stood on the 18th fairway at Hong Kong Golf Club.

In the group behind, Rafa Cabrera Bello birdied the 17th to pile on the pressure and a closing three-putt bogey from Ormsby left the duo in a tie at 11 under.

Cabrera Bello then put his second shot in the bunker at the front of the final green and when he failed to get up and down, the title was Ormsby’s.

For the soon-to-be-married Cabrera Bello it was a second season of heartbreak on the last at this event after Brazel birdied the 18th to consign him to a runners-up finish 12 months ago.

Ormsby birdied the third and bogeyed the fifth on the front nine but Chawrasia – who had led since Thursday morning – looked to be in cruise control as he missed a host of chances while also making gains on the second, third and eighth.

His triple-bogey blew the contest wide open, however, and all of a sudden Swede Björk was in top spot after turning in 30 with five birdies and a bogey.

Ormsby was two shots behind at that point but he birdied the tenth and 14th to share the lead with Björk and Suri, who had made five birdies including a monster putt on the 12th.

AUSTRALIAN-BORN WINNERS – HONG KONG OPEN

1960 – Peter Thomson
1961 – Kel Nagle
1965 – Peter Thomson
1966 – Walter Godfrey
1972 – Walter Godfrey
1973 – Frank Phillips
1979 – Greg Norman
1983 – Greg Norman
2014 – Scott Hend
2016 – Sam Brazel
2017 – Wade Ormsby