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Golf | European Tour

Sergio Garcia © Gallo Images

Garcia seals second consecutive win



Sergio Garcia made it back-to-back European Tour victories when he captured the Andalucia Masters title on Sunday by a stroke from fellow Spaniard Miguel-Angel Jimenez.

In an exciting finale at Valderrama, Garcia's closing level-par 71 for a six-under 278 total was just enough to keep out a battling Jimenez (70).

Garcia, 31, had not won for three years when he claimed the Castello Masters title last week by 11 strokes.

"Last week was fantastic but this win is very, very special," Garcia told reporters. "I have so much history here."

His second successive victory was harder earned as he and Jimenez produced a dramatic finish at the 1997 Ryder Cup venue, formerly the home of the tour's season-ending Volvo Masters.

Starting the day two shots ahead of the field, Garcia, bogeying the sixth and seventh, was at first overtaken by Jimenez, one of the overnight second-placed players.

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Garcia battled back in front by the 14th, only to be caught by the first and second round leader Richie Ramsay of Britain.

When Ramsay lost his ball on the short 15th to run up a double-bogey, however, the Scot's chance was gone.

Garcia forged three ahead of the field but Jimenez, unusually without a win this season, closed the gap to two with a birdie on 16.

TREACHEROUS HOLE

The popular 47-year-old, urged on by a sizeable crowd from his home town of Malaga, gave himself further hope with an eagle chance on the notorious water-protected 17th where there is a plaque to commemorate Jimenez's spectacular albatross there in 1994.

Although Jimenez missed from 15ft, his birdie cut the margin between him and Garcia to only one.

A par by Garcia on the treacherous penultimate hole preserved the status-quo.

When he and Jimenez both parred the last, the $685 000 first prize and key Ryder Cup points went to Garcia, who had finished second three times in Volvo Masters events in the past at Valderrama.

"I'd been in this situation three or four times here but finally it all came right," Garcia added.

"Miguel fought so hard but I hung in there tough. I didn't feel as good as last week but I believed in my ability to get it done."

In a memorable fortnight for former world No 2 Garcia, he has hauled himself back into the world's top 20 and vaulted to the summit of Europe's Ryder Cup points list.

"There was a time I did doubt whether I would ever get back my game, as Luke Donald will tell you from a conversation I had with him in the Madrid Masters last year," Garcia said. "But the last two weeks have been so positive for me.

"The Ryder Cup has always been so very special to me so I'm going to keep fighting to make sure I qualify."

Jimenez's consolation came in the form of 333,330 Ryder Cup points which finally kick-started the campaign for next September's event for the veteran Spaniard.

FINAL SCORES

278 Sergio Garcia (Spain) 70 70 67 71

279 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) 71 70 68 70

280 Richie Ramsay (Britain) 65 72 73 70

281 Shane Lowry (Ireland) 72 71 71 67

282 Steve Webster (Britain) 75 72 66 69

283 Gregory Havret (France) 68 71 76 68

284 Alejandro Canizares (Spain) 71 72 71 70, Christian Nilsson (Sweden) 73 71 65 75

285 Stephen Dodd (Britain) 71 73 74 67

286 Peter Hanson (Sweden) 72 71 73 70, Francesco Molinari (Italy) 71 73 71 71

287 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spain) 73 72 70 72, Martin Wiegele (Austria) 71 76 68 72, Stephen Gallacher (Britain) 68 76 70 73

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