Shane Lowry had to settle for second place as tournament host, Sergio Garcia wrapped up his third Andalucía Valderrama Masters title with a four-shot victory, after weather delays took the tournament into a fifth day.
It proved to be Lowry’s best finish of the season as he fired a five-under-par 66 to move into outright second on minus-eight. The 31 year old – whose last victory came at the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – had given Garcia a scare when he closed the gap to a single shot courtesy of three birdies in a row at the start of the back nine, but a double bogey at the short 15th hole halted his challenge.
Despite that double, however, the Clara man was delighted to find himself in contention once more.
“I was going well yesterday but I came back out this morning on fire as well,” said Lowry. “Birdied 10, 11 and 12, flying, lipped out on 13 and 14 and then hit the worst shot I’ve hit all year on 15. Made double there, but the positive is that it’s probably the only bad shot I hit in that round.
“A 66 around here and being in contention is pretty good. I’m just disappointed I didn’t put a bit of pressure on Sergio. I had it to within one at one stage and then I made double and he made birdie. That was it. But it’s my best week of the year, serious positives to take from it, and I’ve got a great four weeks coming up now to finish the season.”
Lowry wasn’t the only Irishman taking positives away from Valderrama as Dubliner Gavin Moynihan recorded a hugely impressive eighth place finish after a 66 of his own today.
Moynihan had three holes to play out this morning and although he dropped one shot on the way in, his three-under-par tournament total and top-10 finish will be a huge boost as he looks to put a largely disappointing rookie season on the European Tour behind him.
The day belonged to one man however as 2017 Masters champion Garcia – who also won this event in 2011 – powered to victory when play resumed on Monday at the reduced 54-hole tournament by carding three birdies and a single bogey in his last 11 holes to finish the week on 12-under-par at a course he counts as one of his favourites.
“To be able to win three times here in Valderrama is a dream come true,” reflected Garcia. “It’s so difficult, this golf course is so challenging. For me to be able to shoot three rounds under par with the positions we played all week, all the rain we had, and all the stop and going means a lot. I’m very proud of that.
“I knew the guys would attack, they would be going after me. This is the kind of golf course that if you’re a little bit off you can struggle but if your game is on it gives you a lot of birdie opportunities. Obviously Shane was playing well, he got close to me, then unfortunately he doubled 15 and then I dug up an extra gap with my birdie on 14 and opened it to four.
“Becoming a father changes your life for better and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I am very happy to have Angela and Azalea by my side; it was nice to be able to win it for both of them.”
Finland’s Mikko Korhonen finished two shots further back at six under par, one ahead of England’s Ashley Chesters. Lee Westwood and Maximillian Kieffer of Germany were then at four under par, alongside another local favourite, seven-time European Tour winner Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, who secured his European Tour card for 2019 with his share of fifth place.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay also kept his card after finishing in a share of 11th on two-under-par to jump up to 115th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, with England’s David Horsey clinching the final place.