Fernandez-Castano survives final hole wobble to take Shanghai title
Spanish golfer makes a double-bogey six at the 18th to win by one shot
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano survived a nervous finish to claim his seventh European Tour title on Sunday, victory in the BMW Masters in Shanghai taking him top of the Ryder Cup standings.
Fernandez-Castano was three shots clear of the field with one hole to play, but ran up a double-bogey six on the 18th to take some of the gloss off an otherwise brilliant performance.
The Spaniard began the day one shot behind joint leaders Luke Guthrie and Rafael Cabrera-Bello but carded a closing 68 to finish 11 under par at Lake Malaren, one shot ahead of Seve Trophy team-mate Francesco Molinari and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy round, especially the way I started,” said Fernandez-Castano, who is moving to Miami this winter and will play largely on the USPGA Tour next season.
“I started hitting the ball pretty bad but my caddie kept me cool and told me how good I had been hitting the ball through the week and I played fantastic after that.
“On the last I played too conservative and it was a fighting six at the end for sure. I am glad I had a three-shot advantage on the last because I made my life a little complicated on that hole. The putting was letting me down a bit but I made a few changes with my coach last week and it has paid off.
“It’s perfect timing because it’s Ryder Cup qualification period right now. It doesn’t get any better than this; first event of the first ever Final Series and I got the victory.”
Molinari was six shots off the pace at the start of the day and despite a front nine of 34, his chances looked to have disappeared with a bogey on the 12th.
However, the Ryder Cup star then went on a superb scoring run, making an eagle on the par-five 13th and following that with four birdies in succession to join Fernandez-Castano on 10 under before eventually completing a superb 64.
Fernandez-Castano edged back into the lead with a birdie on the 13th and looked to have sealed a comfortable win with further birdies at the 15th and 17th, where he chipped in from just over the green.
He made hard work of the last, though, finding sand off the tee and another bunker with his third shot before holding his nerve to complete his first victory since last year’s Italian Open.
Molinari, who moved up to fourth in the European Ryder Cup points standings, said: “I haven’t played really well on the back nine this week, I always got off to a good start and was stalling on the back nine.
“It was another good start today, then I three-putted the ninth and I thought maybe I get everything back on the back nine. I made a good birdie on 11, three-putt on 12 again from far away and then hit a great shot on 13 to make eagle and from then on it seemed everything was going in. It’s a great feeling when you get to play nine holes like that.”
Defending champion Peter Hanson finished seven under after an excellent closing 63, the Swede having started the tournament – which does not have a halfway cut – with a round of 79.
“I was playing with Paul McGinley, the Ryder Cup captain, and I guess I wanted to impress him,” Hanson joked after a round containing 11 birdies and two bogeys.
“I had no expectations on coming back from injury and I was obviously very rusty on Thursday. But I have felt better and better throughout the week and to finish with a round like that is very pleasing. As a defence, it wasn’t bad!”
The Final Series remains in China for next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, before heading to Turkey and then Dubai, where the top 60 will compete for the DP World Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy remains outside the top 60 after his share of 27th place following a closing 73 only lifted him from 63rd to 62nd. Race to Dubai leader Henrik Stenson could only finish 34th despite a final round of 65, the Swede having slumped to a 79 on Saturday.
However, Stenson slightly extended his lead over Graeme McDowell to €443,725 euros after McDowell finished in a tie for 53rd after weekend rounds of 76 and 74.
Shane Lowry finished best of the Irish despite opening with a 78 on Thursday. The Offaly golfer hit six birdies in a closing 67 to finish on two under and a share of 24th place.
Pádraig Harrington finished alongside McIlroy on one under after a final round of 73, with McGinley also carding the same number to end the week on three over.