Brazel rallies for first win at UBS Hong Kong Open

Sam Brazel stole the show from Rafael Cabrera-Bello at the UBS Hong Kong Open, rallying past the Spaniard to earn his first career victory.

Cabrera-Bello took control of the event with opening rounds of 64-65, and entering Sunday’s final round he still appeared in line for what would have been a fitting end to a strong year. But he played the front nine in 2 over, opening the door for a number of contenders that also included a hard-charging Danny Willett.

It was Brazel who seized the opportunity, though, as the Aussie rolled in three straight birdies on Nos. 11-13 and notched the decisive tally with a 10-foot birdie on No. 18. At age 37, he now has a breakthrough win that brings with it full-time status on the European Tour.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Brazel told reporters. “I’d love to come over to Europe. It will be a great privilege.”

Brazel entered the week ranked No. 480 in the world, but he’s now expected to crack the OWGR top 150 when the updated rankings are released.

Cabrera-Bello finished alone in second, one shot behind Brazel as birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 still weren’t enough to erase his slow start. Andrew Dodt and Tommy Fleetewood tied for third, while Willett finished alone in sixth after a closing 66.

Thongchai Jaidee faded into a tie for 14th after a final-round 71, a result that greatly decreases his chances of making the 2017 Masters. Jaidee entered the week ranked No. 52 but is not expected to move up, and only the top 50 in the year-end world rankings receive invitations to the season’s first major.