Garcia wins Qatar playoff to end Euro Tour drought

Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:21am EST
 
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(Reuters) - Sergio Garcia claimed his first European Tour victory for more than two years when he beat Finn Mikko Ilonen at the third hole of a playoff at the $2.5 million Qatar Masters on Saturday.

Both players finished the regulation 72 holes on 16-under-par 272, one ahead of Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello (69) and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen (68).

Garcia (65) and Ilonen (66) then carded matching birdie fours at the 18th in the first two holes of the playoff, the second from the Spaniard coming after a magical bunker shot to tap-in range just when it looked as though the title may be heading to Finland.

The pair kept playing the 18th and at the third time of asking Ilonen could only manage a par after finding rough off the tee and a bunker with his second shot while Garcia hit the green in two and safely two-putted for yet another four.

The 34-year-old broke into a wide smile before embracing his delighted caddie as Garcia won on the tour for the first time since landing the Andalucia Masters crown in October 2011.

The Ryder Cup stalwart's victory at the Doha Golf Club made up for narrowly missing out on the grand Mother of Pearl Trophy 12 months ago when Britain's Chris Wood eagled the final hole.

"This feels good," Garcia told Sky Sports television after following up his Asian Tour triumph at the Thailand Championship last month. "I started the day thinking that if could shoot six or seven under maybe I would have a chance.

"I had a very similar putt to last year," he said of a 10-foot birdie attempt that slid wide of the cup at the 72nd hole.

"I hit a good one but unfortunately it didn't break. Then the up and down from the bunker was key at the second hole of the playoff and that helped me win."   Continued...

 
Spain's Sergio Garcia celebrates after his eagle putt on the 18th green during the final round of Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club January 25, 2014. REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad