Raphaël Jacquelin Raphaël Jacquelin wins BMW Asian Open in Shanghai

Raphaël Jacquelin of France won the European PGA Tour's BMW Asian Open yesterday in Shanghai, fending off challenges from, among others, Ernie Els, to record only his second career victory in nearly 300 professional starts.

Jacquelin shot a final round 73 (1-over-par) to finish 10-under-par for the championship, good enough to edge out Denmark's Søren Kjeldsen, who finished at 8-under after a final round 73.

But it was a day that saw most players, including Jacquelin, struggle. High winds and rain kept players' scores high, especially on the homeward nine: Jacquelin started his round with birdies on the par-4 first, par-4 sixth and the par-3 eighth. The backside was a different story: Jacquelin bogeyed the par-4 13th, the par-3 14th, the par-4 17 and the par-4 18th.

Other players struggled on the backside as well: Scotland's Colin Montgomerie and Austria's Markus Brier went 3-over in the homestretch, and Kjeldsen went 2-over.

Jacquelin began the tournament at 6-under-par, after a first round 66. He never relinquished the lead.

"It is difficult to take the lead in the first round and keep it to the last," the Frenchman told Europeantour.com. "It was more difficult the last four or five holes. When you are in a position to win it is always difficult to finish but to be a winner you have to finish. I am really happy. It is my second win so it is not a surprise any more."

Els, the world's No. 5 and the winner of the 2005 BMW Asian Open, struggled all tournament with his putter, but still finished tied for fifth at 6-under for the championship. Three bogeys on the round offset three birdies, and kept the South African from being able to mount a significant charge down the stretch.

Jacquelin's victory caps off what has been a strong month. The week before, he led for half of the Volvo Open, and earlier this month he came in third at the Estoril Open de Portugal. Jacquelin's only other professional win came at the 2005 Open de Madrid.

With his win in Shanghai, Jacquelin could break into the top 60.

April 23, 2007

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