Jimenez Rallies for Third Title of 2004


04 BMW Asian OpenSHANGHAI, China -- Miguel Angel Jimenez fired a 5-under 67 on Sunday as he fought back from a six-stroke deficit to win the BMW Asian Open. Jimenez, who picked up his third win of the season, finished the event at 14-under-par 274.
Jimenez took the lead for good with an eagle on the par-5 13th. Jimenez, who won the Johnnie Walker Classic and Algarve Open de Portugal earlier in the season, climbs to second place on the 2004 Order of Merit and further improves his chances of gaining a spot on the 2004 European Ryder Cup squad.
'I played very well right from the start of the round and when the putts start to go in too, then you know you can make a score,' said Jimenez. 'I am really pleased because right now, every time I step onto the golf course I feel good and if I play like this I feel I can do anything. In fact, from about August last year, my form has been really pleasing.'
The tournament marked the European Tour's first official visit to mainland China and Jimenez felt right at home. His six-stroke comeback was the biggest since Ricardo Gonzalez erased a similar deficit at the 2003 Telefonica Open de Madrid last October.
Simon Dyson, who held the lead after each of the first three rounds, struggled to a 4-over 76 to finish second at 11-under-par 277. He was in search of his first win on the European Tour, but will have to settle for second which is still his best finish in five years on tour.
Prayad Marksaeng, who held the lead at one point in the final round, finished third at 10-under-par 278 after a round of 71. K.J. Choi closed with a 4-under 68 to end one stroke further back at minus-9.
Jimenez jumped out to a quick start as he birdied each of the first two holes to get to 11 under and within three shots of Dyson's lead. Jimenez however faltered to a bogey on the fourth at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club.
The Spaniard fought back with a birdie at the seventh to get back within three shots of the lead. He picked up his fourth birdie of the day at the par-4 10th after a stellar shot from a fairway bunker. He now stood at 12-under and shared second place with a sliding Dyson.
Jimenez then picked up his only eagle of the tournament at the par-5 13th, when he chipped in, to vault into the lead at 14 under. He stood two strokes clear of Dyson and Marksaeng, who bogeyed the 13th and 14th to slide to 12 under.
Now in the lead, Jimenez played steady golf with three straight pars from the 14th. He stumbled to a three-putt bogey at the par-3 17th and held a two-shot lead heading to the 72nd hole.
Jimenez closed the tournament in fine fashion. He sank a 5-foot birdie putt on the final hole to earn his 10th European Tour title.
Dyson seemed to be in trouble from the start. He dropped a shot with a bogey at the first and lost another stroke when he bogeyed the fifth. He fought back to birdie the sixth and extend his lead back to three strokes.
That lead would quickly slide away. The 26-year-old faltered to back-to-back bogeys from the ninth to drop to minus-12, one stroke behind Marksaeng. Dyson settled down to par four straight holes.
Dyson, however, dropped another stroke to par when he bogeyed the par-4 15th. He could only par the final three holes to finish second to Jimenez.
Marksaeng looked to be the one who would run away with the tournament. He started at 9 under alongside Jimenez. Marksaeng dropped in back-to-back birdies from the second to get within three shots of Dyson.
Marksaeng, who hails from Thailand, then ran off three birdies over a four-hole stretch from the eighth to grab a two-shot lead at minus-14. However, he struggled to four bogeys over a five-hole stretch from the 13th to drop off the pace.
Lian-Wei Zhang, the first China native to win a European Tour event, closed with a 1-under 71. He shared fifth place at 8-under-par 280 with Adam Groom and Paul McGinley. Jean-Francois Lucquin (73) and Unho Park (67) were one stroke further back at minus-7.
A pair of men from India - Jyoti Randhawa (70) and Jeev Milkha Singh (70) - shared 10th place at 6-under-par 282. They were joined there by Australian Marcus Both (70) and American Gregory Hanrahan (69).
Padraig Harrington, who won this event in 2003, never mounted a charge this week. He closed with a 2-over 74 to share 60th place at 3-over-par 291.
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