Sergio Garcia finally notched up European Tour win No. 15, and three multiple European Tour winners breathed a sigh of relief at securing further employment for 2019.
Garcia successfully defended his $2.9 million Andalucia Valderrama Masters title despite inclement weather doing its utmost to get in the way. England’s David Horsey, Richie Ramsay of Scotland and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, meanwhile, retained their playing rights for 2019.
Numerous weather delays in southern Spain reduced the tournament to 54 holes and forced a Monday finish, but tournament host Garcia was never knocked off stride. He began the third and final round with a four-shot lead, and held a three-shot lead when lightning meant an extra day with Garcia having 11 holes left.
The 38-year-old Garcia did enough over the first 36 holes with rounds of 68 and 64 to get to 10 under and give himself a cushion. His closing 69 gave him a 12-under 201 aggregate and a four-shot victory over Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who finished with a 5-under 66 to take second on his own.
“It’s amazing to be able to win here at Valderrama three times – it’s a dream come true,” Garcia said. “This golf course is so challenging and for me to be able to go out there in the conditions we played in all week and shoot three rounds under par means a lot.
“I knew the guys were going to be going after me. This golf course is the kind of course where if you’re a little bit off you can struggle. But if your game is on it gives you a lot of birdie opportunities.”
The Spaniard moves to 25th on the European Tour money list as a result of picking up the $383,000 first-place check. It is Garcia’s third victory in the event. He also won in 2011.
Horsey, Ramsay and Fernandez-Castano arrived in Spain, the last counting event to determine cards for next year, ranked 116th, 124th and 125th, respectively, on the European Tour money list. Normally the top 110 on the money list maintain tour status for the following year, but that number went to 116 to account for affiliate members. (Xander Schauffele, Lucas Herbert, Matt Kuchar, Pat Perez, Yusaku Miyazato and Satoshi Kodaira were all affiliates this year.)
Horsey’s T-42 finish kept him in 116th position.
“Well that’s a relief!!” the four-time winner tweeted. “Massive wake up call…my game is far better than that, it’s just hasn’t come out fully yet. So tough making changes for the better and staying patient and trusting things whilst making them. All part of the learning curve. Onwards and upwards…”
Ramsay needed to do a lot more than T-42 and duly did so. The three-time winner began the week 124th on the money list and finished T-11 to move nine spots to 115th.
Fernandez-Castano, winner of seven European Tour titles, jumped 21 places to 104th with his fifth-place finish.
Unfortunately, there was no such escape for Scotland’s Marc Warren. The three-time winner began the week in 144th place, but could only manage to move 12 spots to 132nd.
Warren wasn’t the only one ruing a poor week. French players Romain Wattel and Adrian Saddier both dropped three places out of the top 116. They face a season on the Challenge Tour along with Italy’s Matteo Manassero. The young Italian has won four European Tour trophies, but missed the cut in Spain and ended up 124th on the money list.