Garcia makes it two in a row

Sergio Garcia proved that last week’s comeback win was not a fluke by surviving a nervy final day to win the Andalucia Masters.

Sergio Garcia proved that last week’s comeback win was not a fluke by surviving a nervy final day to win the Andalucia Masters.

The Spaniard, now the first to win a strokeplay event at Valderrama, picked up his second consecutive European Tour victory and fifth overall by edging Miguel Angel Jimenez by a single shot on Sunday, a final-round level-par 71 that saw him finish on six under par 278 proving just enough to see off his countryman’s challenge.

Jimenez produced two birdies in his final three holes for a one-under 70 to pull within one shot of the lead and put plenty of pressure on the leader, but Garcia held on with a series of gritty pars to seal the win.

Richie Ramsay finished a shot behind Jimenez in third after a closing 70 and Ireland’s Shane Lowry ended up fourth on three under after a 67, tied for the lowest round of the day.

For Garcia, it was a case of finally completing a job he had come so close to doing on three previous occasions at Valderrama, finishing second at this venue in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

“It’s very, very special,” said Garcia. “Valderrama – I have so much history here and unfortunately it wasn’t as good as this until now!”

Trailing by two shots at the start of the day’s play, Jimenez led for much of the front nine, with two birdies and a bogey early on enough to move past a struggling Garcia, who dropped shots at the sixth and seventh holes to be two over through 10 holes.

Jimenez failed to capitalise on his advantage, however, dropping shots at 13 and 15 to hand the lead back to Garcia, who birdies holes 11 and 14 to erase the damage done on the outward nine.

It brought about a three-shot swing that seemed to be the end of the contest, before Jimenez’ closing birdies again put the pressure on his younger compatriot.

A playoff might have been on the cards after Jimenez found the fairway and green at 18, but his 15-foot putt for birdie came up agonisingly short.

Garcia, meanwhile, kept his cool and made the pars required to outlast his opponent, including a crucial one at 18 where, after coming up short with his second shot, he produced a stunning chip shot that left him only a tap-in for par.

He also received a nice rankings boost that should see him go back into the top 20 in the world.

“I’m out of words,” added Garcia. “It’s been two amazing weeks. Miguel fought so hard and had some good chances coming in, 17 for eagle and 18 for birdie.

“I wasn’t as good as probably the last 13 days, but we hung on and managed to pull through.

“On 18, we decided to play a little more conservative and make sure we hit the fairway, then the chip was just amazing. I thought it was going in.

“I’ve been in that situation three or four times on this course. It wasn’t easy, but I believed in my ability. To be able to hit the chip I hit there and roll the putt in with the pressure, it was nice.”

Garcia also now leads the Ryder Cup points race.

“Ryder Cup years are always special for me, so hopefully we can make that team,” he said.

Third-placed Ramsay also found himself at the top of the leaderboard on the back nine, but a shank at the 15th resulted in a double-bogey that brought an end to his challenge.

A birdie at the final hole at least gave him third place on his own ahead of Lowry, whose 67 featured birdies at the third, fourth, fifth, 12th and 14th holes.