Filipino Pagunsan wins merit title

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 05 2011 08:40 AM | Updated as of Dec 05 2011 04:40 PM

HONG KONG - Juvic Pagunsan became the first ever Filipino to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit on Sunday when he finished in 10th place at the UBS Hong Kong Open.

Pagunsan closed out the event -- won by world number two Rory McIlroy on 12-under 268 -- with a two-under 68 for a six under total, adding US$55,000 to his season's total and putting him out of reach with one event left.

"I accept that it's one of the biggest achievements in my entire life," said Asia's new number one.

"I'm really surprised. Everyone dreams to get the Order of Merit on the Asian Tour. I wasn't expecting that this year. My ranking before the Singapore Open was dangerous and suddenly I just jumped to number one."

Pagunsan has now won US$788,298 for the season with US$660,600 coming from his second-place effort at last month's Singapore Open.

As Asia's new number one, Pagunsan will be exempt into the British Open and World Golf Championship-Cadillac Championship in 2012. He will be officially crowned at the season-ending Thai Golf Championship, which starts December 15.

"There's no holiday," said Pagunsan. "I try to focus every day. I'll try to win (the Thailand Golf Championship). Maybe I can but I'm not so sure as it's everybody's ball game."

Pagunsan revealed his game had benefited from a new fitness regime he first started after last month's Taiwan Masters event.

"I have jogged every morning," said Pagunsan. "It helped improve my game. It helped me improve physically and mentally here. I was fresh."