Lara Holds On
A final-round 69 earned Spain's Jose Manuel Lara his first European Tour victory, but he had to fight to the bitter end as unknown Juvic Pagunsan put in a remarkable performance to push him all the way
Lara, who netted US$330,000 for the win, enjoyed a three-stroke lead early in the round, but Pagunsan fought back gamely to take the lead with a birdie at the 14th. Smiling and laughing the whole way round, Pagunsan became an instant hit with the Fanling galleries, who thought they were witnessing the most unlikely winner in the tournament's history.
Sadly for Pagunsan, who won the 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit, it wasn't to be. A bogey by the Filipino at the 16th – a hole Lara birdied – took him out of the lead and the Spaniard was able to cling on by the narrowest of margins with two solid pars to end.
"Juvic is a better player than I thought, especially on the greens. He putted so well," said Valencia-born Lara. "I think I was too confident but I got my chance on the 16th and that gave me the trophy. But it's been a really tough day."
Asked why he looked so happy and relaxed during the final round, even after he had lost the lead, Pagunsan replied simply, "I always smile for the crowd; I don't want to be sad."
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