Garcia crushes field by 11 for first win in 3 years|
Castellon, Valencia, Spain (Sports Network) - Sergio Garcia began the day with
such a big lead that a player who flirted with 59 on Sunday never had a prayer
to get into contention.
The only things battling Garcia were the record books and the lowest score of
all time on the European Tour. In the end, Garcia beat that, too, except it
won't officially count because of lift, clean and place conditions on the
His eight-under 63 in the final round of the Castello Masters gave him a 72-
hole total of 27-under 257, which would have counted as the lowest 72-hole
score in European Tour history. It's a record that has stood for 23 years,
since David Llewellyn posted a 258 at the 1988 ARF Biarritz Open. Ian
Woosnam tied the mark two years later at the Torras Monte Carlo Open.
It also would have tied the second-lowest score to par in tour history,
matching Jerry Anderson's mark from 1984 and two behind Ernie Els' 29-under
performance at the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic.
"Hard to say that you expect to fire like I did this week," Garcia said. "I
was feeling good. I've been improving the whole year, and the three weeks
(off) were just mother's milk for me. I needed that, and, obviously, they
Garcia finished off his sensational performance at Club de Campo del
Mediterraneo, his home course, with nine birdies and one bogey to win by 11
over Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
It's Garcia's first win in nearly three years -- since winning the HSBC
Champions in late 2008 -- his 20th professionally and ninth on the European
Tour. After he ran home a short birdie putt at the 72nd hole, he exclaimed,
"This one's for Seve!" -- a short tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, who
passed away earlier this year after compiling more European Tour wins than any
For Garcia, a former world No. 2, it's a career performance at a time when it
was sorely needed, and it helps him get a huge burden off his shoulders. As
the calendar turns to 2012 in only a few months, the eyes will once again be
on Garcia to finally add a major tournament victory to his resume.
But for now, he can breathe a sigh of relief.
Fernandez-Castano, meanwhile, was on his way to a 59 by going seven-under
through nine and nine-under through 14, but two closing bogeys marred what
could have been a spectacular ending. Instead, he settled for a seven-under
64, which put him in second place at 16-under 268.
Alexander Noren (64) finished third at 15-under 269, tied with Richie Ramsay
(65). Thomas Aiken (63) was fifth at 14-under 270.
Garcia's 11-shot romp was tied for the third-largest margin of victory in tour
history, and he played like someone down by eight rather than someone who led
by eight to begin the day.
He began with three straight pars, but his iron play started to heat up and
provide some excellent birdie opportunities. Two short birdie putts, both from
inside six feet, on Nos. 4 and 5, put him at 21-under and he began a
sensational run of four straight birdies from the eighth.
Garcia recovered from an errant tee shot into the trees on No. 8 to make a 10-
foot birdie putt, and he ended the front nine with a four-foot birdie to move
to 23-under. After a birdie at the 10th, he attempted to drive the short par-
four 11th and ended up in a bunker.
"There's still things I can improve on," Garcia said. "I felt I hit the ball
nicely, but there's a couple things I'd like to get better at. The short game
is looking good, playing nicely and chipping well, and my ball-striking is
He got up-and-down for birdie to improve to 25-under and, after back-to-back
birdies from the 14th, was threatening a couple of the European Tour's all-
time scoring records.
Garcia was two off Els' 29-under with three holes to play, but a par-bogey
sequence quashed any hopes of tying or setting that mark. With a closing
birdie, though, he finished 72 holes in 257 strokes, fewer than anyone ever
had in tour history.
"At the beginning of the week, there's always a little bit of extra pressure
because you want to do better in front of your home crowd and on your home
course," Garcia said. "The people just make me feel so at ease, and I felt
really good all week."
While Garcia was chasing records, Fernandez-Castano was after a hallowed mark
as well -- 59. He went birdie-eagle-birdie from the third, then posted three
straight birdies from the seventh to finish the front nine at seven-under 29.
Fernandez-Castano stumbled to his first bogey at the 10th, a major hit in his
quest for the magical number. He responded with three birdies in the next four
holes to get to nine-under through 14 and needed to post three more birdies in
the last four holes to do it.
However, it wasn't meant to be, as Fernandez-Castano finished with two pars
and two bogeys to make his final score a not as impressive 64.
George Coetzee (66) finished sixth at 12-under 272; Marcel Siem (67) was
seventh at minus-11; and Marcus Fraser (69), Romain Wattel (69) and Ross
McGowan (71) shared eighth at 10-under.
NOTES: If his score had been official for the record books, Garcia would have
beat the lowest final 54-hole score (190) by two strokes. Anders Forsbrand
posted a 192 in 1987, though that came at a par-72 course...Only Els and Tiger
Woods have posted larger final margins of victory on the European Tour than
Garcia...Garcia moved into the top 35 of the world rankings with the
victory... The tour stays in Spain next week for the Andalucia Masters at
Valderrama. Graeme McDowell continued his amazing form a year ago en route to
10/23 12:16:09 ET