Kevin Phelan posts timely third-place finish in Hong Kong

Waterford golfer could retain Tour card with another big cheque in Perth next week

Ireland’s Kevin Phelan is 129th in the Race to Dubai rankings. Photograph:  Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Ireland’s Kevin Phelan is 129th in the Race to Dubai rankings. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

 

Ireland’s Kevin Phelan has left himself a chance of securing his European Tour card for next season with a third-place finish behind winner Scott Hend of Australia at the Hong Kong Open.

Hend edged Angelo Que in a play-off to clinch his maiden tour title. A par on the first extra hole was enough to steer the 41-year-old past the Filipino, who missed the green on the 18th and then over-hit his chip.

Phelan finished two adrift of the leading pair, on 11 under after a 66, and pocketed a cheque worth €64,546 to bring his earnings up to €165,935. That leaves him 129th on the Race to Dubai money list, €57,000 adrift of 110th place.

The top 110 retain their cards automatically for next season, meaning another big payday for Phelan in the final event of the season proper next week, the ISPS HANDA Perth International, could see him earn a last-gasp reprieve for next season.

Phelan admitted to “struggling a bit all day” but he hit three birdies in a row from 16 to 18 to finish with a 269 total.

“It would have been nice if I could have got a run a bit earlier (in the season) but I’ll take it now,” he said. “I’m delighted with the finish.

“I’ve been playing quite well lately and not getting any results out of it . . . so it’s nice to get a decent finish. It’s nice to be able to do it coming to the end of a tournament.”

Que’s fourth-round 66 forced the play-off after an intense back-nine battle, which ended with his birdie on the 18th tying things up with Hend at 13 under par. But the 35-year-old will be left lamenting the fact that his three bogeys on the day - to Hend’s two - and a costly second-round 69 ultimately cost him victory.

Aged 41, Hend is the oldest first-time European Tour title winner since Cesar Monasterio, who was 42 when he won the 2006 As St Omer Open.

He was understandably thrilled to secure victory, but he felt bad for Que after his bogey sealed the play-off.

“I felt quite calm, the only thing is that hole at the end you never want to have a go at the pin because you can make a bogey quite easily so I wasn’t really sure how to play it,” Hend told the European Tour website. “Unfortunately Angelo made a bogey, I would have rather one of us made a birdie because he’s a great guy and it would be nice to earn the win on a positive note. But I’ll take the win and I’m ecstatic.”

Overnight leader Marcus Fraser’s double bogey on the opening hole blew the title race open and he struggled to get back in the mix with back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes.

Englishman Mark Foster’s double-bogey on the ninth dented his progress and he finished one shot behind Phelan, while Fraser ended up in a four-strong cluster four shots off the pace after a disappointing final round of 72.

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