SOTOGRANDE, SPAIN | Sergio Garcia’s
resurgence continued Sunday on the European
Tour as he became the first Spaniard to win a
stroke-play event at Club de Golf Valderrama
with a battling triumph at the Andalucía Masters.
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, shot level-par
71 to finish on 6-under 278 in Sotogrande.
“It’s very, very special,” said the 31-year-old,
who had been mired in a deep and prolonged
slump until this summer. “Valderrama – I
have so much history here and unfortunately it
wasn’t as good as this until now.”
Most people who follow golf were banking
on former world No. 1 Tiger Woods to mount a
comeback before the nearly forgotten Garcia,
who didn’t even make the European Ryder Cup
side in 2010. But it is Woods who still hasn’t won
since November of 2009. And it’s Garcia who is
en fuego. Garcia now climbs back into the top 20
of the Official Golf World Ranking with this win,
his fifth European Tour victory on Spanish soil.
Runner-up Miguel Ángel Jiménez led for
much of the front nine and then birdied Nos.
16 and 17 to re-ignite his challenge. Spaniard
Jimenez wound up one back at 5 under. Scot-
land’s Richie Ramsay was a shot further back in
third and Ireland’s Shane Lowry fourth on 3 under.
Asked about his return to form following a
long barren spell, Garcia added: “I knew that
I had game, because I had it before, but obvi-
ously, 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 working process, I’ll keep working on it, and
Jiménez, 47, initially joined Garcia on 6 under
with two birdies inside his first three holes and
found himself in sole possession of the lead
when his fellow countryman three-putted the
sixth before finding trouble off the tee at the next
and making another bogey. The colorful Jiménez
failed to capitalise on a host of further opportu-
nities on the front nine and that proved costly.
“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.”
Garcia now leads the 2012 European Ryder
Cup points race and added: “Ryder Cup years
are always special for me, so hopefully we can
make that team.”
Ai Miyazato heads a list of
top LPGA players at this week’s
Mizuno Classic in her home
country of Japan.
Only 6 more spots are up for
grabs in the season-ending
CME Group Titleholders.