Hoshino holds off McKibbin and co in Qatar thriller

Ronan MacNamara
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Tom McKibbin (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Tom McKibbin earned his highest finish of the DP World Tour season so far with a solo fourth place as Rikuya Hoshino held off the chasing pack to win his maiden tour title at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

McKibbin had a final day akin to Rory McIlroy in the major championships, carding a bogey-free 70 with just two birdies.

Conditions were difficult on Sunday and the Holywood star opened his round with nine successive pars with only two birdie efforts from inside 20-feet at the par-4 7th and par-3 8th.

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McKibbin’s patience was rewarded with a birdie at the par-5 10th and after driving the green on the par-4 16th he two-putted to move to within one of Hoshino before the Japanese responded with back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 to take control.

The 21-year-old finished with two pars for an eleven-under-total, three shots shy of Hoshino who overcame final hole nerves to edge Ugo Coussaud by the minimum with a final round of 68.

Scotland’s Scott Jamieson carded the low round of the week with a final round of 65.

“I’m honoured to win this wonderful tournament, I was runner-up in the two Australian tournaments so I’m so happy to win,” said Hoshino, 27.

“I was nervous but I tried to keep enjoying the day and at the end of the day I was so happy.”

Hoshino went into the final round tied at the top with Rasmus Højgaard and Coussaud.

A fine approach to inside five feet at the second set up an early birdie and, after a bogey on the fourth, Hoshino made back-to-back gains on the fifth and sixth.

A wayward drive on the seventh led to another dropped shot and Hoshino returned to 12 under with a gain at the long tenth.

Hoshino drove the 16th and made birdie, before holing a 25-footer at the next to seemingly put the result beyond doubt.

There was still time for Coussaud to add an element of tension at the last, as he made birdie from ten feet to leave his playing partner needing to convert from four feet to avoid a play-off, which he duly managed.

The victory makes Hoshino the first Japanese winner of the event, and only the fourth in DP World Tour history after Isao Aoki, Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Hisatsune.

The result also moves him comfortably inside the top 100 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

 

 

 

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