Monday, October 28, 2013

Fernandez-Castano captures BMW Masters

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño produced a superb display in Shanghai to win his seventh European Tour title at the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group, the first event of the Final Series. Fernandez-Castaño’s closing round of 68 gave him an 11 under par aggregate winning total at Lake Malaren Golf Club, finishing one shot ahead of Seve Trophy team-mate Francesco Molinari – who started the day six shots off the pace – and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee. The Spaniard endured a wobble at the final hole, where he found two bunkers en route to a double bogey six, but his earlier exploits had given him enough of a cushion to capture his third BMW-sponsored event, following victory in last year’s Italian Open and the 2006 Asian Open. Despite a front nine of 34, Molinari’s prospects of securing victory seemed to have disappeared with a bogey at the 12th hole. But the Ryder Cup star then embarked on a remarkable run, notching an eagle on the par five 13th and following that up with four birdies in succession to join Fernandez-Castaño on ten under. Fernandez-Castaño edged back into the lead with a birdie on the 13th and looked to have sealed a comfortable win with further gains at the 15th and 17th, where he chipped in from just over the green. He made hard work of the last, however, finding sand off the tee and another bunker with his third shot before holding his nerve to collect the winner’s cheque for €851,346 and, with it, a place in next week’s lucrative WGC-HSBC Champions event, the second tournament in the Final Series. He said: “It’s the first event of the first ever Final Series and I got the victory, so it doesn’t get any better than that. This win has come along at just the right time – I wasn’t in the HSBC next week, and also it’s perfect timing because it’s The Ryder Cup qualification period right now. There’s never a bad time for a victory, but this has been just perfect. “It seems that I always play well at this event – it’s probably the whole atmosphere. BMW is one of the great supporters of The European Tour through the years, they know how to run events and they make the players feel so comfortable. “And it was great to see the crowds this week, they have been pretty amazing. They were definitely bigger than in previous years, and that just shows that golf is growing here in China. There’s so much potential, and the country has a very bright future ahead.” Joint overnight leader Luke Guthrie of America finished in fourth place on nine under par after closing with a 71.  The lowest round of the day was posted by defending champion Peter Hanson, who surged from joint 31st overnight into a tie for eighth place courtesy of a 63 which included 11 birdies.  His fellow Swede Henrik Stenson also made the most of the more benign conditions, closing with a round of 65 to finish in a tie for 34th place and extend his lead over Graeme McDowell at the top of The Race to Dubai Rankings.

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