AS CHRISTMAS presents go, Sam Brazel’s gift ranks higher than most.

The journeyman pro scored the biggest win of his career with a 72nd-hole birdie to claim the UBS Hong Kong Open by a stroke. The 37-year-old from Lismore in northern New South Wales earns a two-year exemption on the European Tour, having contested a mere 17 events on that circuit in his career to date.

Sharing the lead with European Ryder Cup star Rafa Cabrera Bello entering Sunday’s final round at Hong Kong Golf Club, Brazel began slowly with a birdieless front nine in which he dropped two shots. Brazel sparked to life on the inward journey, re-injecting himself into the mix with three straight birdies from the 11th hole. Six players were tied for the lead at one stage, with Brazel’s collection of birdies helping him share the lead playing the last hole. A pinpoint iron shot to eight feet and a coolly struck putt earned him the pinnacle moment of his career.

Brazel closed with a two-under 68 to finish 13-under. Cabrera Bello finished alone in second at 12-under with Queenslander Andrew Dodt, the runner-up at last week’s Australian PGA Championship, sharing third with England’s Tommy Fleetwood at 11-under.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Brazel said. “I’ve been playing good. It’s just been a bit of a struggle with the old irons and my man [from Callaway Golf], Adam, set me up with a new set of bats, and it’s all sort of turned around. This is the fruit.

“I was very lucky. That wasn’t the greatest second shot in there (to the 18th) but it ended up good and the rest is history.

“I’d love to come over to Europe. It will be a great privilege. It was a thrill to be out there the last few days. I hope that continues.”

Brazel began the week ranked 480th in the world and can expect to sit near the 150 mark when the rankings are updated tonight, Australian time.

There was more Aussie joy in Hong Kong with Scott Hend’s modest T-51 finish netting him the Asian Tour order of merit crown at the co-sanctioned event. The Queenslander won twice during the 2016 season and is the first Australian to top the moneylist in Asia, doing so as only the fourth player to earn $US1 million in a season. He banked $US1,004,792, more than $270,000 ahead of second-ranked Marcus Fraser.

“It’s quite special. Obviously winning any order of merit anywhere is very special, and this will stay with me forever,” Hend said. “It’s just a culmination of a lot of years on the Asian Tour and coming so close and not getting over the line; it’s finally nice to reach the top and grab the trophy.

“I just managed to level it off and play really solid during the middle of the year and fortunately enough for me, I won a couple tournaments and I came in a couple top-fives. So it was quite nice.

“It’s been a great year. I only missed out on one goal and that was obviously to get top-50 in the world and play the Masters next year. It was a hard task; I had to come second here or I had to win. All in all, it’s a very good year.”