Monday, November 14, 2011


Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won the storm-delayed Barclays Singapore Open at the second play-off hole this morning.
The 31-year-old, pictured right, sank a nine-foot birdie putt on the par-five 18th to defeat Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines who pushed his putt inches wide of the cup.
Lightning had forced the players off the course on Sunday in an event that had been shortened to 54 holes by the weather.
Both ended on 14 under, Fernandez-Castano surrendering a four-shot lead over the back nine.
Pagunsan had appeared to have done enough to seal victory as his late surge coincided with a bout of poor putting from Fernandez-Castano.
The Spaniard suffered three bogeys over the final nine holes, while Pagunsan sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the last to sign off with a 67 and pull level at the top of the leaderboard.
Fernandez-Castano hit his tee-shot into the water but the four-time winner on the European Tour engineered a superb escape, sinking a 20-foot putt to ensure a par five, a round of 72 and a play-off.
The shoot-out was twice interrupted by rain and lightning strikes before being delayed until Monday.
Pagunsan, 33, had a chance to win on the first extra hole, but he pushed a five-foot birdie putt wide and when he missed from 10 feet the second time they played the 18th, Fernandez-Castano made him pay to record his first European Tour victory in three years.
"This is probably the most nervous I've ever been on a golf course," said Fernandez-Castano, who admitted he had been unable to sleep on Sunday night.
"[Sunday] was the type of pressure I have never felt before. I've never been in the lead with a four-shot margin going into the last nine holes. I hope I've learned from that."
Anthony Kim narrowly missed out joining the duel after producing a round of 64 that contained eight birdies.
The American was joined in third place by South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion compiling a fine 65 that included seven birdies and just one dropped shot.
England's James Morrison, handily placed three shots off the lead after the second round, failed to close the gap after bogeys on the 11th and 18th.
Compatriot Justin Rose was tied for ninth on 10 under after shooting a final-round 69, while Graeme McDowell closed with a fine 66 to end eight under par. American Phil Mickelson was well down the field on five under.

Six months ago there were serious doubts as to whether Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano would play golf again.
Plagued by a back injury that saw him miss three consecutive cuts at the start of the year before forcing him to the sidelines for six months, there were still questions over his European Tour future as recently as six weeks ago.
With less than 50,000 Euros banked by the end of September, time was running out for the 31 year old Spaniard to climb into the top 115 on The Race to Dubai.
Three productive weeks on home soil ended any immediate concerns, and the comeback is now complete after his play-off victory over Juvic Pagunsan in the Barclays Singapore Open.
After three days affected by storm delays, Fernandez-Castano┬▒o and Pagunsan of the Philippines returned to Sentosa Golf Club to complete extra holes, both men finishing 14 under par after 54 holes.
And despite seeing a four shot lead evaporate over the back nine in regulation play, it was Fernandez-Castano who kept his nerve to birdie the 18th at the second time of asking and land a fifth European Tour title.
Not only have injuries disrupted the likeable Spaniard's game in recent years. He has had six runner-up finishes since his last win at the 2008 British Masters and undergone several changes to try and cure some serious woes with the putter.
A claw grip seems to be paying dividends, helping him finish sixth, second and 12th in Spain last month, and his progress was highlighted by the 20 foot curler he holed on the final green in regulation to force the play-off.
And with his success over the Serapong layout, Fernandez-Castano is now up to 58th in the Official World Golf Ranking, having been 188th three months ago
"It has been a great relief, especially the way I played yesterday - having a four shot lead and spoiling it all," he said. "It has been a tough year and I got a monkey off my back. It has been three years without a victory and it means a lot to me.
"Putting is probably my Achilles tendon but I think it has improved a lot. But in the heat of the battle, it's a different story."
Fernandez-Castano's display also takes him second in the European Ryder Cup points table, but the former Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year insists there is a long way to go to secure a place on the plane to Chicago next year.
"It was never in my mind about The Ryder Cup points," he added. "I just wanted to come back from my injury and play well again. What I did until this week was pretty amazing and winning the title is unbelievable."
Pagunsan's best chance came when he pitched to eight feet at the first play-off hole, but although that missed birdie putt ultimately proved costly, he can console himself with the fact he now leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
"It was very close - I thought I was going to make my first putt [on the first play-off hole)," he said.
!I had big confidence I was going to win. Unfortunately I missed the first putt - I thought to myself 'This is my big chance to win,' but I missed it. But I am still a big winner in myself."

+Aberdeen's Richie Ramsay finished T13 on eight-under 205 with rounds of 69, 65 and 71. He won 62,428 Euros.




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