García secures Valderrama hat trick
Sergio Garcia successfully wrapped up his third Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation title with a four-shot victory, after weather delays took the tournament into a fifth day.
The 2017 Masters Tournament winner had been in possession of a three-shot lead when stormy conditions forced play to be suspended on Sunday night after a series of weather delays on the opening three days at Real Club Valderrama had already seen the tournament reduced to 54 holes.
The defending champion – who also won this event in 2011 – powered to victory when play resumed on Monday, carding three birdies and a single bogey in his last 11 holes to finish the week on 12 under par at a course he counts as one of his favourites.
Irishman Shane Lowry recorded his best finish of the season, taking second place at eight under par after a final round 66.
The 31 year old – whose last victory came at the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – had given Garcia a scare when he closed the gap to a single shot courtesy of three birdies in a row at the start of the back nine, but a double bogey at the short 15th hole halted his challenge.
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen finished two shots further back at six under par, one ahead of England’s Ashley Chesters. Lee Westwood and Maximillian Kieffer of Germany were then at four under par, alongside another local favourite, seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, who secured his European Tour card for 2019 with his share of fifth place.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay also kept his card after finishing in a share of 11th on two under par to jump up to 115th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, with England’s David Horsey clinching the final place.
Sergio Garcia: “To be able to win three times here in Valderrama is a dream come true. It’s so difficult, this golf course is so challenging. For me to be able to shoot three rounds under par with the positions we played all week, all the rain we had, and all the stop and going means a lot. I’m very proud of that.
“I knew the guys would attack, they would be going after me. This is the kind of golf course that if you’re a little bit off you can struggle but if your game is on it gives you a lot of birdie opportunities. Obviously Shane was playing well, he got close to me, then unfortunately he doubled 15 and then I dug up an extra gap with my birdie on 14 and opened it to four.
“Becoming a father changes your life for better and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I am very happy to have Angela and Azalea by my side; it was nice to be able to win it for both of them.”
Shane Lowry: “I was going well yesterday but I came back out this morning on fire as well. Birdied ten, 11 and 12, flying, lipped out on 13 and 14 and then hit the worst shot I’ve hit all year on 15. Made double there, but the positive is that it’s probably the only bad shot I hit in that round.
“A 66 around here and being in contention is pretty good. I’m just disappointed I didn’t put a bit of pressure on Sergio. I had it to within one at one stage and then I made double and he made birdie. That was it. But it’s my best week of the year, serious positives to take from it, and I’ve got a great four weeks coming up now to finish the season.”
Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño: “I’m really, really happy and also quite proud of what I’ve done this week; when I needed to deliver I did, so I’m excited.
“If I had to choose a tournament to keep my card it’s probably this one. It doesn’t particularly suit my game, but it’s a course I know very well, and also I knew the scoring would not be extremely low.
“I’m very excited to be back with full status on the European Tour; it’s always been my home tour and will always be. I’ve been away for a few years trying the American dream, unfortunately it didn’t happen for me, but it’s good to be back. I believe I still have a few years ahead to win tournaments, and hopefully 2019 will be one of them.”
Richie Ramsay: “I didn’t sleep the best but I think I came out and proved a lot to myself, arguably under the most pressure I’ve ever felt coming down the stretch, but it’s a course I love which made it far easier to go out there and play.
“I had some good looks at some great putts on 16 and 17 and then I rolled in a nice little tester at the end from about three feet. A three footer under normal circumstances is very easy, but not when your job is on the line.”
The Andalucía Valderrama Masters hosted by the Sergio García Foundation has been sponsored by the Council of Tourism and Sport of the Junta de Andalucía through the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union, with the added institutional support of the Diputación de Cádiz, the San Roque City Council, the Royal Andalusian Golf Federation and Marbella Tourism Board. It also enjoys the support of La Reserva de Sotogrande, Rolex, Heineken, Dubai Duty Free, Santander Private Banking, Shell, Exterior Plus and Samsic Iberia. Only Water, Grupo Hospitalario Quirónsalud, Coca-Cola, Varma, Korporate Technologies Group and Volvo are official suppliers.