New Zealander Ben Campbell snatches last gasp victory in thrilling Hong Kong Open

American Andy Ogletree wins International Series Asian Tour Order of Merit for his LIV Golf Tour Ticket for 2024

By Team KT

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Ben Campbell lifts the trophy after winning the $2 million Hong Kong Open. - Supplied photo
Ben Campbell lifts the trophy after winning the $2 million Hong Kong Open. - Supplied photo

Published: Sun 12 Nov 2023, 7:20 PM

New Zealand’s Ben Campbell drained a 15 foot birdie putt on the famous par-four 18th hole to win the $2 million Hong Kong Open today after a gripping battle over the closing stages with playing-partners Cam Smith from Australia and Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai.

Campbell, who had not led at any stage of the tournament until that brilliant last putt, shot a four under par 66 to finish on 19 under par and beat Smith by one and Phacahara by two.

Smith returned a 68 and Phachara a 69 here at the Hong Kong Golf Club, while Canadian Richard T. Lee came in with a 64 to tie for third.

All three players, playing in the final pairing, were tied playing the last with the chance of a sudden-death play-off very high.

However, Campbell won it in normal time after Smith had to lay up with his second shot and nearly holed his third before making a four, while Phachara missed his birdie putt from 25-feet and three putted after missing a three-footer.

Andy Ogletree wasconfirmed as The International Series Order of Merit champion for the 2023 season. - AFP
Andy Ogletree wasconfirmed as The International Series Order of Merit champion for the 2023 season. - AFP

For Campbell, who also birdied the 17th, this is his maiden win on the Asian Tour, with his only other win in the professional game coming at the New Zealand PGA Championship in 2018.

“It’s good to finally get the monkey off the back and yeah, sort of just battling away all day,” said Campbell.

“Sort of didn’t get off to the greatest of starts and swing wasn’t feeling that great. Sort of went back to a few close losses and wrote a few notes down in my yardage book last night, and really used them on those last four or five holes.

“It was getting a bit tight in the swing and just from those past experiences managed to, I think, you know, put a couple of nice swings coming down the stretch which really helped,” he added.

Cam Smith of Australia hits a tee shot on day two of the Hong Kong Open at Fanling golf club in Hong Kong. - AFP
Cam Smith of Australia hits a tee shot on day two of the Hong Kong Open at Fanling golf club in Hong Kong. - AFP

The victory is also just reward for a player who has struggled with injuries and missed six months last year due to a back issue which required surgery.

The most recent Kiwi winner of the Hong Kong Open was Frank Nobilo in 1997, while the only other was Walter Godfrey 1972.

Smith and Phachara had started the day sharing the lead with Campbell one back.

Phachara looked to be heading for the win when he birdied three in a row from 11 and led by one from Smith and two from Campbell with three to go.

However, drama unfolded on the par-four 16th when he hooked his tee into the trees. He chose to try and hit his ball back into play from a treacherous lie but failed to get it out before just being able to advance his ball to the edge of the fairway with the next. He ended up making a costly double. He also birdied the next hole before his disappointing finish on 18.

Smith struggled with his driver and long irons over the weekend and was disappointed not to win for the first time in Asia.

American Andy Ogletree was the other big winner today after he was confirmed as the winner of The International Series Order of Merit, which hands him a ‘golden ticket’ onto next year’s multi-million dollar LIV Golf League.

He finished in joint 15th following a 69.

“At the moment it’s hard enough to think about the way I played today but I am so excited to win the Order of Merit,” said the American.

“It’s been a lot of hard work this year and a lot of great golf has gone into this and I just want to thank everyone that’s gotten me to this point. The Asian Tour for all that they’ve done and my team back home for allowing me to play the way I’ve played this year. I couldn’t be more excited, and I can’t wait to play LIV next year.”

Yubin Jang, the 21-year-old who turned professional last month after helping Korea win gold in the team event at the Asian Games, stormed through earlier in the day with a 63, spoiled only by a bogey on the last, to end in fifth place on 16 under.

Dubai based Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind), shot a final round 70, along with his first three rounds of 67, 66 and 68 to finish in tied 30th.

The Asian Tour heads to the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE next week. The $1.5 million event will be played at Royale Jakarta Golf Club and is the final International Series event of the season, and the third from last tournament on the Asian Tour schedule.

Scores

(6,710 yards, par 70).

B. Campbell (NZ) 66. 64. 65. 66. 261.

3 / 3

C. Smith (Aus) 63. 66. 65. 68. 262.

R. T. Lee (Can) 70. 64. 65. 64. 263.

P. Khongwatmai (Thai) 65. 63. 66. 69. 263.

Y. Jang (South Korea) 64. 67. 70. 63. 264


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