Gonzalez takes maiden victory

 

Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez today became the third first-time winner on the European tour in the space of four weeks.

Gonzalez, the biggest hitter on the circuit this season with an average drive of 303 yards, unleashed some more massive blows as he compiled a closing 68 for a 16-under-par total of 268.

Outright leader after every round, the former caddie pushed Dane Soren Hansen into second place and so kept the title in Argentine hands 12 months after Eduardo Romero's 10-shot triumph.

Lee Westwood's hopes of ending his victory drought this year disappeared when he triple-bogeyed the par-four fourth for the second time in the week, but just to play 72 holes with no recurrence of the wrist injury which forced him out of his last event was good news for the Ryder Cup.

"I'd give my wrist 10 out of 10, but my golf about four," he said after finishing alongside world number four Ernie Els in 16th place on four under.

With only two of Europe's top 15 this season in the field - that became one when Thomas Bjorn withdrew with a shoulder injury that thankfully ought not to prevent him appearing at The Belfry either - there was always the chance for one of the lesser lights to shine more brightly.

Sure enough, the leaderboard with a round to go was headed by four players without a single tour title between them, Gonzalez leading by two from Scahill and by three from Hansen and Mansfield's Greg Owen.

By the turn the gap was four and once he had saved par with a superb chip at the short 11th and then birdied the next Hansen was the only player left with a chance of catching him.

But the Dane's failure to birdie either of the par fives in the closing stretch effectively settled the issue.