| Garcia delights in 'dream' Valderrama treble

Sotogrande – Sergio Garcia said it was a “dream come true” to win a third Valderrama Masters title on Monday, as the Spaniard continued his strong end to an otherwise difficult year.

The 38-year-old has been revitalised since being named as a wildcard pick for Europe’s triumphant Ryder Cup team, posting his first top-10 finish since July in Portugal before winning three matches against the United States in Paris.

He was at his very best during the weather-hit tournament in Andalusia, holding off a Shane Lowry charge with a two-under 69 in the third and final round to win by four shots on 12-under-par overall.

“To be able to win three times here in Valderrama is a dream come true,” said Garcia, who has won the event the last three times it has been played, after victories in 2011 and 2017.

“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… I’m very proud of that.”

The former Masters champion went into Monday’s restart with a three-shot lead over Lee Westwood after seven holes of his round.

But while former world No 1 Westwood fell away, Irishman Lowry stormed out of the pack with three birdies in a row to get to nine-under for the tournament and only one stroke off the lead.

A double-bogey on the par-three 15th ended his challenge, though, and Garcia made two birdies in the final five holes to secure a 15th European Tour title and seventh on home soil in Spain.

“I knew the guys would attack, they would be going after me,” Garcia said. “Obviously Shane was playing well, he got close to me, then unfortunately he doubled 15.”

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen finished third on six-under, one stroke ahead of Englishman Ashley Chesters.

Home player Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano finished in a tie for fifth with Westwood and Maximilian Kieffer to keep his European Tour card for next season.

Richie Ramsay and David Horsey were among the others to hang onto their playing rights for 2019.

Four-time European Tour winner Matteo Manassero of Italy was one of those to lose his card, though, after missing the cut at the weekend.

Leading scores after the third and final round of the European Tour’s weather-hit Valderrama Masters on Monday (par 71/GBR & IRL unless stated):

201 – Sergio Garcia (ESP) 68-64-69

205 – Shane Lowry 69-70-66

207 – Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 69-71-67

208 – Ashley Chesters 66-70-72

209 – Maximilian Kieffer (GER) 72-71-66, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (ESP) 70-68-71, Lee Westwood 71-68-70

210 – Gavin Moynihan 73-71-66, Matthew Nixon 69-71-70, Jason Norris (AUS) 69-71-70

211 – Joost Luiten (NED) 73-71-67, Richie Ramsay 69-74-68, Oliver Fisher 71-69-71, Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 67-73-71, Marc Warren 69-69-73

212 – Robert Rock 71-73-68, Ricardo Gouveia (POR) 72-71-69, Alejandro Canizares (ESP) 71-72-69, Paul Peterson (USA) 70-72-70, Thomas Aiken (RSA) 74-72-66, Alvaro Quiros (ESP) 68-70-74

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