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Hong Kong Open: Graeme McDowell has all guns blazing for shootout in the desert

By Peter Hutcheon

Graeme McDowell heads to this week's Race to Dubai final more determined than ever to deny rival Martin Kaymer the European No 1 title.

McDowell narrowed Kaymer's lead in the Race to just under €291,000 after finishing fifth behind Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter in the Hong Kong Open.

The current US Open champion earned €46,446 after a final-round 68 secured a 19-under-par tally, three strokes behind Poulter.

Poulter has bumped Rory McIlroy out of the top 10 in the world rankings in capturing the Hong Kong title in his first appearance in the event. He won by a stroke after a final round of 67 left him with a 22-under-par tally. It is Poulter's second win this year after capturing the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“I felt calm all day and felt that if I kept going about my business, I'd make a few birdies and that would be enough to win, so it's very pleasing to do so,” said an ecstatic Poulter.

Italy's rising star Matteo Manassero, with Coleraine caddy Ryan McGuigan on the bag, recorded a blistering final-round 62 to finish tied with former Hong Kong Open winner Simon Dyson (65) on 21-under-par.

McIlroy started with a bogey en route to 67 to finish sixth, one place behind McDowell on 18-under-par.

“I am driving the ball great, which is the key for next week, and I am playing well enough to win in Dubai,” McDowell said.

“Let's be honest, it's been a great year and anything that happens next week is a bonus.

“But I am going there to win it because if I win there's nothing he can do to deny me.”

Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin recorded the lowest score of the round (61), and jumped to a tie for seventh place on 17-under-par.

“It was good to shoot 61 today but I could have contended all week but just didn't make anything earlier on,” he said.

“It's just that I made a bunch of putts today, and it's a nice score to pack into the suitcase to take to Dubai.

“But I had two bogeys on the card, so I guess without those maybe I could have shot a 60 or maybe even the magical 59 — but then, we've been playing preferred lies all week.”

Damien McGrane signed off for a 63 that included driving the shortened par-four 10th green for eagle, and six birdies, to finish tied 11th on 15-under-par.

Dungannon’s Darren Clarke recorded a 68 for a share of 19th place on 12-under-par while fellow Ulsterman Michael Hoey, who played alongside Maybin, signed for a 69 and a share of 25th on nine-under-par.

McDowell, McIlroy, Clarke, Maybin and Hoey all retain their full Tour membership for next season.

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