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Warren Bennett

Olazabal snatches title with late birdies

Double US Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal produced a magnificent late run of birdies to win the 700,000 dollars Hong Kong Open by one shot.

The Spaniard produced three birdies on the last three holes to finish on 22-under-par 262, one shot ahead of overnight leader Henrik Bjornstad of Norway and two clear of Australia's Adam Scott.

"I have never won a tournament by birdieing the last three holes. You don't finish with three birdies knowing you have to do it," Olazabal said.

It was a three-way battle all the way between the experienced Olazabal and young guns Scott and Bjornstad.

All three were tied on 21-under-par leading up to the 18th hole at the par-71 Hong Kong Golf Club, but Olazabal won the day thanks to a superb approach shot which almost eagled the 410-yard par four.

"It was a tough match as I was always behind. It was a tough day. But I managed to pull it off with a little bit of luck and a well executed shot," added Olazabal, referring to his five-iron low approach shot which fell six inches shot of the pin.

The 35-year-old, who won his last US Masters Championship in 1999, fired eight birdies and a bogey to finish the last round on seven-under-par 64 and win his second title this year. He won the French Open in April.

Scott, who had led for most of the round, saw his lead disappear under the intense pressure. The 21-year-old from Adelaide began well, surging into the lead with four birdies on the opening nine. But he could only manage one more birdie on the homeward stretch and a poor tee shot left him with a bogey at the last.

"When Ollie finishes birdie, birdie, birdie, there is nothing much you can do," said Scott, who shot a four-under-par 67.

Runner-up Bjornstad parred the final hole to complete a four-under-par 67. He needed to sink an 18-foot putt on the 18th hole to force a play-off, but was off the mark.

"He just came from behind and took it away from us," said Bjornstad.

Olazabal, who finished joint-second at the BMW Asian Open in Taiwan last week, said he was playing the best golf of his life since 1994 when he won his first Green jacket.

"I'm playing as well as I did in 1994, but it is not enough playing well for two weeks. I need to keep playing well for 16, 18 or 20 weeks at a stretch. But it feels great to win, especially in the way it happened," he said.

262 JM Olazabal (Spa) 65 69 64 64 (£80,170)

263 H Bjornstad (Nor) 66 69 61 67 (£55,246)

264 A Scott (Aus) 64 67 66 67 (£30,762)

265 M Foster 66 65 67 67 (£24,803)

266 C Pettersson (Swe) 67 64 68 67 (£19,836)

267 A Marshall 68 66 68 65, A Forsbrand (Swe) 67 64 68 68, M Pilkington 69 68 62 68

268 J Sandelin (Swe) 68 70 66 64, W-T Yeh (Taiwan) 66 63 72 67, S Dyson 67 64 70 67, B Davis 70 67 64 67

269 T Jaidee (Tha) 67 70 67 65, M Campbell (Nzl) 66 69 68 66, G Evans 70 66 65 68

270 A Pitts (USA) 68 67 70 65, T Levet (Fra) 70 67 66 67, S Yates 66 66 70 68, L-W Zhang (Chn) 67 67 68 68

271 C Cevaer (Fra) 68 69 67 67

272 M Olander (Swe) 68 65 71 68, S Lindskog (Swe) 66 70 68 68, T Wiratchant (Tha) 70 66 68 68, S Scahill (Nzl) 68 67 68 69, D Terblanche (Rsa) 70 63 69 70

273 W-C Liang (Chn) 69 66 73 65, P McGinley 65 66 74 68, A Meeks (USA) 71 66 68 68, T Sriroj (Tha) 69 69 66 69, JF Remesy (Fra) 67 68 68 70, M Mouland 67 71 65 70, N O'Hern (Aus) 67 68 67 71, R Muntz (Ned) 69 65 67 72

274 R Coles 70 69 70 65, J Rystrom (Swe) 67 67 73 67, P Sjoland (Swe) 66 73 68 67, B Ruangkit (Tha) 69 68 68 69, M Cort 66 67 71 70, A Kang (Kor) 71 64 69 70, Z Moe (Myanmar) 66 64 71 73

275 B Lane 66 69 73 67, A Atwal (Ind) 70 69 68 68, J Van de Velde (Fra) 71 66 69 69, J Lomas 72 67 67 69, A Wall 66 67 72 70, A Singh (Ind) 70 67 67 71, G Rosales (Phi) 70 66 67 72, G Havret (Fra) 71 67 66 71

276 S Ishigaki (Jpn) 70 67 71 68, P Fowler (Aus) 67 66 71 72

277 J Randhawa (Ind) 70 67 71 69, J Donaldson 72 66 70 69, T-C Wang (Taiwan) 67 69 71 70, C Williams (Rsa) 66 71 68 72

278 S Hansen (Den) 68 70 71 69, C Pottier (Fra) 68 70 71 69, S Dodd 71 65 72 70, C-B Lam (Sing) 71 67 65 75

279 P Del Olmo (Mex) 67 69 72 71, T Dier (Ger) 68 68 72 71, S Khan 68 69 71 71, E Canonica (Ita) 71 67 70 71, J Stewart (Hkg) 65 71 71 72, K Eriksson (Swe) 72 66 69 72, G Hanrahan (USA) 69 69 69 72, P Golding 69 70 68 72, G Rusnak (USA) 71 68 67 73, C-T Yeh (Taiwan) 70 68 67 74

280 V Bhandari (Ind) 70 69 73 68, A Johl (Ind) 73 66 72 69, W-T Lu (Taiwan) 71 68 71 70, D Zarate (Phi) 68 70 71 71, G-S Choi (Kor) 69 65 72 74, K Felton (Aus) 69 68 68 75

281 F Quinn (USA) 70 69 71 71, J Hobday (Rsa) 71 67 69 74

282 J Spence 72 67 70 73

284 C Wi (Kor) 69 70 74 71

287 G Ghei (Ind) 74 63 79 71



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