McGowan coasts to victory in Madrid


Golf:Having laid the groundwork with a scintillating third round 60, England’s Ross McGowan was afforded the luxury of simply coasting to his maiden tour victory at the €1.5million Madrid Masters where Gareth Maybin and Gary Murphy ended the week tied fourth.

McGowan started the final round at Centro Nacional de Golf seven clear of his nearest challengers before closing out the three-stroke victory with a final round 71 for a 25-under par 263 winning aggregate.

Finland’s Mikki Ilonen (66) finished second on 22-under with Scotland’s David Drysdale (67) third one shot further back.

At one stage McGowan’s lead was reduced to just two shots by Ilonen as the 27-year-old was in danger of blowing the biggest lead of the season. However a 10-foot birdie at the 15th calmed the nerves before another brief scare on the final hole.

At the par five 18th McGowan pulled his approach but managed to avoid the water hazard only for his ball to finish on the wooden sleepers adjacent to the green. With a three shot cushion he sensibly played away from the flag and two-putted for par to land the €250,000 winner’s cheque.

“I came here this week in form and it’s lovely to come away with the trophy,” said McGowan after his round. “Once I saw where some of the pins were it was a lot trickier and my game-plan was to hit as many greens as I could.

“It means a lot to win - that’s another goal out of the way and hopefully from here I can progress and move on to bigger things.”

Ilonen’s second place finish moved him inside the top 115 on the money list at a time in the season when many are jostling for positions in the hope of securing their playing rights for next season.

Murphy started the week in the precarious situation of 145th on the money list but his high finish will go some way towards getting back inside the top 115. A closing 68 for an 18-under 270 aggregate was good enough to earn €63,700.

Maybin, whose closing 64 was the low round of the day, boosted his chances of making it to the lucrative Dubai World Championship by picking up the same cheque as Murphy and Sweden’s Alexander Noren (65) to cement his place inside the top 60 in the Race to Dubai.

The Ballyclare pro had no less then 10 birdies on the card, including a hot-streak of five on the spin from the 10th.

Damien McGrane climbed into the top 20 after a 67 left the Meath golfer tied 17th on 15-under, while Peter Lawrie (70) finished on 10-under.

Shane Lowry couldn’t match the heroics of his second round 63 as weekend rounds of 73, 72 left the Irish Open champion in a tie for 53rd on nine-under.

Michael Hoey ended the week on four-under after a closing 74.