Aaron Rai did just enough as he sealed his maiden European Tour win with a one-shot victory at the Hong Kong Open. The Englishman started the day six shots clear at Fanling Golf Club and made gains at both the third and fourth, only to drop shots at the sixth and eighth.
Another pair of birdies at the 12th and 13th allowed him to bogey the last as he signed for a closing 69.
Rai’s tally of 17-under was enough to outdo Matthew Fitzpatrick who birdied the first two holes of the day and picked up five more shots. However, a bogey at the 17th cost him dear as his round of 64 saw him fall one shot short.
Victor Perez and Jason Scrivener tied for third, six shots back, while David Drysdale was fifth ahead of a three-man tie for sixth including Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera-Bello. After a recent eighth place in South Africa, 23-year-old Rai was delighted to get over the line, admitting he was proud of the way he held off the charging Fitzpatrick.
“It’s incredible. It definitely hasn’t sunk in just yet,” Raid said. “I’ll probably need a few days for that to happen. “It’s incredible to win on any Tour, let alone the European Tour and let alone the Hong Kong Open. “It’s an incredible course, incredible event, very well supported.
The crowds have been amazing. I’m just very grateful. “Matt played incredibly all day. It was tough but again, I really just tried to play the course as much as possible rather than Matt or anyone else who was playing well today. “I luckily managed to do that for most of the way around. It was tough considering the situation but I’m very pleased.”