Host Sergio Garcia held off Dutchman Joost Luiten to claim a sixth success on Spanish soil with victory in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters as Scott Jamieson extended his season into the European Tour’s Final Series with a top-10 finish on the Costa del Sol.
Garcia’s first title triumph since becoming Masters champion in April was hard- earned, needing a closing 67 for an impressive 12-under-par total on one of the toughest tests in European golf as he finished a shot ahead of Luiten (66).
Having followed a chip-in birdie at the ninth with back-to-back gains to start his inward nine, Garcia looked to be coasting to victory as he stood three shots clear. However, Luiten, having seen the gap reduced by the Spaniard’s only bogey of the day at the short 12th, drew level following birdies at the 13th and 15th.
A three-putt from Luiten at the next saw the home favourite edge in front again and, after both players birdied the par-5 17th, Garcia made the most of a big break at the last, where his drive flirted with tree trouble on the left but somehow found the fairway, to secure victory with a par.
It was the 37-year-old’s third win of the year, having also triumphed in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February before going on to claim his Green Jacket, and the 32nd of his glittering career.
“It was amazing,” he said afterwards. “All three of us [in the final group] played amazing. Daniel [Brooks] played great with everything he had on the line, trying to keep his card, and Joost played unbelievable. I played really well and felt like maybe I could get away and he just kept coming back and made it an amazing match.
“I stayed patient the whole time, made sure the bad moments didn’t affect me too much and made a couple of really key putts coming in. I want to dedicate this one to my wife Angela and our little baby coming next year in March – this one is for them.”
Jamieson finished joint sixth on three-under after a closing 73. He was tied for fourth with Jamie Donaldson, one of his playing partners, for most of the round before running up a double-bogey 6 at the 16th. It was the Scot’s third top-10 finish of the year and lifted him 10 spots to 70th in the Race to Dubai at the end of the regular part of the season.
That means he will now join three of his compatriots – 24th-ranked Richie Ramsay, David Drysdale in 48th and 54th-placed Marc Warren – in the opening Final Series event, the Turkish Airlines Open, which starts in Belek on Thursday week.
Connor Syme, the only other Scot to make the cut, finished 64th after closing rounds of 76 and 79. Having made it to the weekend in his first three starts as a professional on the European Tour and picking up more than £75,000 in the process, though, the 22-year-old Fifer will head into his next assignment, the second stage of the Qualifying School, in good fettle.
Englishman Brooks finished third to save his card, climbing up to 97th, while Donaldson, Europe’s match-winner in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, scraped into the safety zone in 99th after claiming fourth spot. That meant the Welshman doesn’t need to fall back on being in the top 40 on the circuit’s career money-list to rely on starts next season.
Sitting 78th in the Race to Dubai, Stephen Gallacher might just sneak into the Turkish Airlines Open despite an early exit in Spain, where a similar fate for Duncan Stewart has left him facing a visit to the Qualifying School after finishing 132nd on the money-list. Scott Henry (200th) is in the same position after his final throw of the dice in the card battle also resulted in a missed cut.