Hong Kong: SSP Chowrasia's superb comeback continued with yet another fine finish as he ended a creditable tied fifth at the Hong Kong Open golf here on Sunday.
The 36-year-old two-time winner of joint-sanctioned events carded a final round of three-under 67, despite a closing bogey that ultimately proved costly.
It was Chowrasia's fourth top-five finish on the Asian Tour this year and he has also finished in top-10 twice on European Tour.
"I feel my game is coming around and I am playing with much greater confidence," said Chowrasia, who finished at nine-under 271, four shots behind winner Australian Scott Hend (67), who beat Filipino Angelo Que (66) in a play-off after both were tied at 13-under 267.
Rahil Gangjee (66) and Jyoti Randhawa (72) were tied for 15th at six-under 274, while the fourth Indian, who made the cut, Shiv Kapur (69) was tied 20th at five-under 275.
"I was happy with the way I have finished each round, though the start was somewhat weak," said Chowrasia.
"Of course I made a mistake on the last and ended with a bogey today, otherwise my game is looking good. I am looking forward to playing in Macau next week."
He added, "I felt I had a chance. When I saw the leaderboard after 16 I was two behind (he was playing six groups ahead of the leaders Hend and Marcus Fraser). I had a birdie on 17th and that brought me closer, so obviously I pressed a little bit. But on the 18th, I hit my tee shot left and made a bogey."
About the course, he said, "This course is really a very tricky course honestly." Big-hitting Hend holed a five-foot par putt at the 18th green in the first extra hole after Que bogeyed following a poor chip from the greenside at the venerable Hong Kong Golf Club. It was Hend's sixth Asian Tour victory and his first on the European Tour, which was worth USD 216,660. He joins an illustrious list of Hong Kong Open champions that includes Major winners Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman, Peter Thomson, Tom Watson, Jose Maria Olazabal, Padraig Harrington and Ian Woosnam.
Victory was sweet for the Aussie as he produced a wonderful par save from a plugged lie in the greenside bunker on 18 during regulation play to sign for a closing three-under-par 67 and tie Que on 13-under-par 267 aggregate.
The bubbly Filipino had set the clubhouse target after a fine 66 which included a memorable birdie at the closing hole, called 'The Ultimate', which would rank amongst the great birdies produced over the years at the famous hole.
Hend emerged as the first Australian winner in Hong Kong since Norman's victory in 1983. He is also the first Asian Tour member to win the event since Lin Wen-tang's triumph in 2008. "I felt quite calm. The only thing is that you don't want to go for the pin on 18 as you can make bogey quite easily. I wasn't sure how to play it and we (with his caddie Tony Carolan) discussed it and we said we'll play it like how we would in regulation play.
"Unfortunately, Angelo made a bogey. I would rather see one of us make a birdie as he's a great guy and it would be nice to win a play-off with a birdie. However, I'll take the win. I'm ecstatic.
"The one on 18 was especially tough considering the situation. I knew what I had to do. I had missed a chance to take the lead on 17 and I knew I had to get up and down. It's a tough hole, no matter if you're playing it in a practice round or tournament. I'm just very happy to get this done.
"This one is for my kids (Aston and McLaren). They have been sending me music messages the last three mornings. So yeah, it's very much to be treasured."
Que was disappointed to miss out on his fourth Asian Tour victory but found consolation with the fact that his runner-up cheque of USD 144,440 pushed him into sixth place on the Order of Merit which earned him a place in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in two weeks' time.
"It actually panned out better than I thought. I had a chance to win, yeah, I did, but I didn't win, so just move on. That's how it is. There's only one winner. Unfortunately, I bogeyed the last (in play-off)," Que said.
Ireland's Kevin Phelan closed with a 66 for third place while England's Mark Foster was a further shot back in fourth position. South African star Ernie Els (69) settled for a share of fifth place on 271 with Chowrasia and overnight leader Marcus Fraser (72).