Garcia wins for second week in a row with one-shot triumph in Andalucia

By PA Sport
Published on

Sergio Garcia is back in the world's top 20 and at the top of Europe's Ryder Cup points race after grabbing his second victory in a row on Sunday.

The 31-year-old, who ended close to three barren years in winning by a runaway 11-stroke margin at the Castello Masters last weekend on his home course just up the Spanish coast, held off fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez by one shot Sunday to win the Andalucia Masters at Valderrama.

"I'm out of words," said Garcia after getting up and down from the rough on the last to win. "It's been two amazing weeks."

His latest success was followed by an admission that he feared he would never come back from a slump that saw him crash from world No. 2 to outside the top 75 -- and quit the game for a while last season.

"Ask Luke Donald," Garcia said. "We had a very tough conversation in Madrid."

Now, with Donald on top of the rankings, they are on course to pick up their unbeaten Ryder Cup partnership in Chicago next September.

"Ryder Cup years are always special," Garcia added, "so hopefully we can make that team."

Garcia, three times a runner-up at mighty Valderrama, where, amazingly, no Spaniard had ever triumphed, was three ahead with three to play. But Jimenez birdied the 16th and a marvelous 5-wood over the lake gave the 47-year-old a 12-foot eagle chance on the 17th.

He had to settle for birdie, though, and when he left a 15-foot putt short of the final hole it meant three closing pars were good enough for Garcia.

Not that he found them easy. He was in the trees and sand at the 16th but holed from six feet, then was fortunate on the 17th when his second shot skipped out of a bunker.

"Don't plug," he shouted with the ball in the air, but after finding himself in the rough instead he made his 5 and then chipped to three feet from beside the final green.

Needing to win to qualify for this week's WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, Garcia's level-par closing round of 71 gave him the victory with a 6-under total of 278.

Jimenez, runner-up to Tiger Woods at Valderrama in 1999, had taken over the lead going into the back nine, but bogeys at the 13th and 15th cost him dear.

The short 15th was also the hole Scotland's Richie Ramsay was left ruing. He had moved level with Garcia, but blocked his tee shot and the ball was not found until just after the five minutes allowed for the search were up.

It cost the former U.S. Amateur champion a double-bogey 5 and he had to be content with third place for the second week running. Ireland's Shane Lowry was fourth after a joint best-of-the-day 67 and England's Steve Webster fifth following a 69 spoiled by two closing bogeys.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell had two days to forget. He finished last of those who survived the cut on 25 over after rounds of 81 and 82. And England's Richard Finch had nothing to smile about, either, after taking an 11 on the 17th as he finished 13 over.