Gonzalo caps return with ‘amazing’ win in Singapore

Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano was amazed by his performance after overcoming six months of injury problems to end a three-year title drought by winning the Singapore Open yesterday.

Having been plagued by back issues and contemplating complex surgery, he had been concerned his career would be cut short by the problem.

But after returning to the tour late in July and claiming two top ten finishes in October, he completed the comeback with victory at the rain-affected Singapore Open in a play-off over the unheralded Filipino, Juvic Pagunsan.

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“It has been a difficult year for me. The back injury kept me away from the golf course for six months. When I came back, I just wanted to play well again,” the 31-year-old Spaniard said after collecting the huge trophy and $1 million first prize.

“The things I have done in this past month have been pretty amazing. Winning this Barclays Singapore Open is the icing on the cake.”

It had looked like winning the tournament was beyond Fernandez-Castano after he blew a four-shot lead on the final inward nine of the 54-hole tournament, recording three bogeys over four holes as the pressure mounted.

However, he recovered from driving his tee shot into the water at the par-5 18th to drain a 12-foot par putt and force a play-off with Pagunsan and then won the twice delayed shootout yesterday with a birdie four on the second extra hole.

It meant a fifth European Tour title for the Madrid-born golfer and first since his 2008 British Masters triumph. “I was worried when I came back if I would be as sharp. I did not know if I would be fit again. I was close to getting back surgery,” a relieved Fernandez-Castano said.

“My main goal was to get fit and see if I was able to play again. After that, my main worry was being able to play how I used to. First couple of months were tough. I could see how my game was improving.”

Fernandez-Castano paid tribute to his closest supporters for helping him maintain belief. “It’s down to my family and friends and my wife,” he added. “In the six months, I am sure I was a bit of a pain. For her it was hard, not being on the golf course and complaining for sixth months.So all credit goes to her.”