Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano survived a late scare when he found two bunkers on the way to a double-bogey six on the last, but the Spaniard had enough of a cushion to complete a one-stroke victory at the BMW Masters in Shanghai yesterday.
The 32-year-old teed off a stroke behind the leaders in the final round and gained six shots over 17 holes in a flawless display before his final hole struggles.
A four-under 68 took him to 11-under for the tournament, enough for him to win the US$7 million event, the first of four in the European Tour’s Finals Series to determine the order-of-merit winner.
Italian Francesco Molinari (64) and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (66) finished a stroke behind, with American Luke Guthrie, who held at least a share of the lead over the first three days, finishing third at nine-under.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy round, especially the way I started. I started hitting the ball pretty bad,” Fernandez-Castano said after becoming the first Spaniard to win on the Tour this year. “But my caddie kept me cool and told me how good I had been hitting the ball through the week and I played fantastic after that.”
The victory moved the Spaniard into the top five on the money list and boosted his chances of making the team for next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Molinari was two-under for the final round until the 12th hole, but started a scoring spree to surge up the leaderboard with an eagle on the 13th, followed by four consecutive birdies.
Defending champion Peter Hanson of Sweden, who has had problems with his back, started the no-cut event with a 79, but scorched the course with a closing 63 to finish at seven-under.
“I was playing with Paul McGinley, the Ryder Cup captain, and I guess I wanted to impress him,” Hanson said after his round, which featured 11 birdies and two bogeys. “I had no expectations on coming back from injury and I was obviously very rusty on Thursday.”
Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy’s problems continued as he carded a final round one-over 73, with five bogeys and four birdies, to finish in a tie for 27th.