25 Oct Joy For Ford
Golf is a game of fine margins and this week at the UBS Hong Kong Open Matt Ford and Ben Evans showed just how fine those margins can really be.
The pair came into the week ranked 117th and 118th in the Race to Dubai, separated by just 728 points as they set about trying to fight their way into the top 110 to keep their cards.
For Ford it was mission accomplished as he shot 69-65-67-69 to finish ten under in a share of seventh and leap up to 106th place in the standings.
Evans had looked in serious trouble on Friday as he finished right on the cut line but he came home in 31 on Sunday to finish on nine under, just a single shot behind Ford, and was left to wait as the rest of the field finished their rounds.
In the end, there was heartbreak for the 28 year old as a share of 11th moved him up seven places into the dreaded 111th spot – just 1,007 points below Renato Paratore – and he now faces a trip to Qualifying School.
Ford had to go through that route last year to get his card and got his rookie season off to a positive start with a second-placed finish at the Africa Open in March.
The 37 year old then made the cut in just four of his next 13 events but managed to get over the line at Hong Kong Golf Club.
“I’m very happy. Obviously I left myself a lot to do and it seems to bring out the best in me” – Matt Ford
He added: “So it’s very emotional and I haven’t spoken to the family yet. I’ll probably break down again there.
“It was a bit of an achievement, obviously second place was just amazing and obviously you start doubting yourself when you start missing cuts and not playing great.
“I always knew this course suited me. It was just a case of keep going and I’m extremely proud.”
Paratore had been a spectator since Friday after signing for an incorrect score in the first round but he managed to stay the right side of the line along with Prom Meesawat and Chris Paisley, with Seve Benson the man to drop out after missing the cut.
Meesawat had begun the week right on the line but managed to leapfrog both Paisley and Paratore with a stunning finish to his final round.
The Thai had been level par at the turn and dropped a shot on the 11th before making five birdies in his final six holes to finish in a tie for 29th and move up to 108th in the standings.
“I started with a bogey today but I hit quite good, I still left a couple of short birdie putts but I holed a couple of long putts as well,” he said.
“It’s a good way to finish with four birdies in a row, that’s helped me a lot.
“I hit a lot of good shots and I talked to my caddie: ‘we’ve just got to be patient’. I just missed a short putt on 14 and I holed a long putt (25 feet) on 15 and I just told myself – the last three, just get a couple of birdies.
“I didn’t expect to make birdie on the 18th but if you hit a good tee shot you can try to get it close. It’s amazing making four in a row.”
Paisley was not as convincing as he double bogeyed the last to sign for a 73 and finish three over but he managed to hold on and avoid a trip to the Qualifying School.
Australian Jason Scrivener was also in the mix to keep his card on the final day and he closed with a 68 for a share of third but that was only good enough to move him up to 118th from 139th.