European Golf Tour
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 fairways.

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 worked."

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 other golfer.

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 looking good."

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 the title.

10/23 12:16:09 ET