SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Sergio Garcia produced a masterful display of bogey-free golf over 27 holes on Sunday to open his season with a five-shot victory at the weather-disrupted Singapore Open, the Spaniard making his move early and dominating from the front.
The 38-year-old U.S. Masters champion signed for a final-round three-under 68 in glorious sunshine to finish on 14-under 270, well clear of Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira and South Africa’s Shaun Norris, who tied for second on nine-under-par.
“I played nicely but it wasn’t easy. There were some very challenging holes but I played very well and then was just steady on the back-nine to make sure I wasn’t making any bogeys,” Garcia said in an interview at the trophy ceremony.
“It was a great week overall. You still need to hit a lot of good shots to do well here and I was able to do that.”
Garcia had returned to the course at dawn to complete his third round after weather delays had forced an early finish on Saturday and the Spaniard hit the ground running, wiping out a two-shot deficit with four birdies in his last nine holes.
After reeling in overnight leaders Chapchai Nirat and Danthai Boonma and starting the last round with a one-shot lead, Garcia put on an iron-play masterclass as he surged clear of the field on the hazardous front nine at the par-71 Serapong Course.
A birdie on the first hole of his final round doubled his lead and after a sumptuous approach and monster putt secured back-to-back birdies on seven and eight, Garcia was five shots clear as his nearest rivals wilted under a melting midday sun.
The world number 10 then settled into safety mode, aiming for the center of the greens rather than attacking the pins, as he parried his last 10 holes on the rapidly drying Senoras Golf Club layout to ensure no one could capitalize on any errors.
The co-sanctioned Asian and Japan Tour victory is the 32nd of Garcia’s professional career and sets him up nicely for the defense of his Dubai Desert Classic title on the European Tour next week.
“It’s always great to start like this,” Garcia added. “To do it here, at this golf course against a good Asian field in tough conditions is important. Hopefully we can carry on like that.”
Thailand’s Danthai and compatriot Jazz Janewattananond tied for fourth place on eight-under to earn two of the four British Open slots on offer for players who had yet to qualify for the oldest major on the calendar.
They will be joined at Carnoustie in July by young American Sean Crocker (seven-under), whose Zimbabwean father Gary played in that country’s first ever cricket test match in 1992, and Australia’s Lucas Herbert (six-under).
Reporting by John O'Brien; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly