Sunday, October 30, 2011


Sergio Garcia’s resurgence continued as he became the first Spaniard to win a stroke-play event at Club de Golf Valderrama, Sotogrande with a battling triumph at the Andalucía Masters today.
Garcia, also a winner on home soil in last week’s Castelló Masters and three times a runner-up at this venue in 2004, 2005 and 2006, carded a level par 71 to finish on six under par.
That put him one clear of compatriot Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who led for much of the front nine and then birdied 16 and 17 to re-ignite his challenge, with Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay, the leader through the first two rounds, a shot further back in third and Ireland’s Shane Lowry fourth on three under.
Garcia will climb back into the top 20 of the Official Golf World Ranking with this win, his fifth European Tour victory on Spanish soil.
“It’s very, very special,” said the 31 year old. “Valderrama - I have so much history here and unfortunately it wasn’t as good as this until now!"
Asked about his return to form following a long barren spell, he added: “I knew that I had game, because I had it before, but obviously, when your head is not in the right spot it doesn’t matter how much game you have, your muscles won’t listen.
“I’m just happy with my year. We all know how difficult golf is. This is a work in process, I’ll keep working on it, and trying hard and enjoying it.”
Jiménez initially joined Garcia on six under with two birdies inside his first three holes and found himself in sole possession of the lead when Sergio three-putted the sixth before finding trouble off the tee at the next and making another bogey.
The 47-year-old's failure to capitalise on a host of further opportunities on the front nine proved costly, however. While he dropped shots on the 13th and 15th, Garcia recovered well and returned to his overnight score with birdies at 11 and 14.
A superb up-and-down from a greenside bunker at the par four 16th kept him at six under, but Jiménez made a birdie 3 at the same hole and picked up a further shot at the infamous 17th to reduce the gap to one, having set up an eagle chance with a magnificent approach shot over the lake guarding the green.
Another birdie at 18 looked likely when Jiménez found the fairway and green, but he left his 15ft putt agonisingly short and Garcia, despite missing the putting surface at the last, held his nerve to claim a second successive triumph.
“I’m out of words,” said Garcia. “It’s been two amazing weeks. Miguel fought so hard and had some good chances coming in, 17 for eagle and 18 for birdie.
“I wasn’t as good as probably the last 13 days, but we hung on and managed to pull through.
“On 18, we decided to play a little more conservative and make sure we hit the fairway, then the chip was just amazing. I thought it was going in.
“I’ve been in that situation three or four times on this course. It wasn’t easy, but I believed in my ability. To be able to hit the chip I hit there and roll the putt in with the pressure, it was nice.”
Garcia now leads the European Ryder Cup points race and added: “Ryder Cup years are always special for me, so hopefully we can make that team.”
Ramsay, top of the leaderboard after days one and two, briefly jumped into a share of the lead with Garcia on the back nine, only to then shank his tee shot on the par-3 15th.
His ball was only found after the five-minute search time had elapsed and the resulting double bogey effectively ended his hopes although a one-under-par 70 was his best round since his opening 65. .
A birdie at 18 at least ensured Ramsay claimed outright third ahead of Lowry, who birdied the third, fourth, fifth, 12th and 14th in a fine 67, the joint-best round of the day. The Aberdonian earned 187,800 Euros for his second good European Tour performance in a row
England’s Steve Webster, who shot 66 yesterday, got within one of the lead with four birdies, but back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17, where he found the water with his second shot, saw him finish in fifth on two under, with Grégory Havret the only other man in red figures.

Par 284 (4x71) Prize money in Euros
278 Sergio Garcia (Spain) 70 70 68 71 (500,000).
279 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 71 70 68 780 (333,330).
280 Richie Ramsay (Scotland) 65 72 73 70 (187,800).
281 Shane Lowry (Ireland) 72 71 71 67 (150,000).
282 Steve Webster (England) 75 72 66 69 (127,200).

287 Stephen Gallacher 68 70 70 73 (T12) (48,600).
291 David Drysdale 70 76 73 72 (T28) (25,800).




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