James Morrison of England played an error-free final round at Real Club de Golf El Prat near Barcelona to win the Open de España (Spanish Open) by four shots.
Morrison fired a closing 69 to finish the tournament on 10-under-par, four better than defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Edouard Espana of France and another Englishman, David Howell.
Morrison started the last round in a tie for the lead with Howell, but he pulled clear of his more experienced countryman with birdies at the 5th and 9th holes. He played a supremely steady back nine to give the chasing pack little hope of catching him. A birdie on the 72nd hole sealed the victory.
Four things we learned at the Open de España:
1. James Morrison picked up a first-place cheque for €250,000 and will move up more than 100 places on the Official World Golf Ranking. In 2010 the Englishman won the Madeira Islands Open as a 25-year-old and great things were predicted for him. But he’s struggled a little to live up to those expectations in recent years and was forced to return to Q-school back in 2013. This win will see his position on the circuit secured until the end of 2017. Look for him to kick on and post some further good results this season.
2. Miguel Angel Jimenez continued to show he still has what it takes to mix it on the main tour. The 51-year-old put on a superb defence of the title he won 12 months ago. A final round of 67 pushed him into a tie for second place. Earlier in the week, Jimenez thrilled the home fans with a hole-in-one on the 8th hole during the second round. He came just inches from repeating the feat on the final day.
But, ever the showman, he did manage a hole-out in round four; he boxed his second to the fifth for an eagle two.
3. David Howell of England continued his excellent run of form on the European Tour. The 36-year-old was tied for fourth and then second in the two tournaments held recently in China. He has now added a tied second-place finish in Spain to his list of results for 2015. Howell, twice a European Ryder Cup team member, is now up to 14th on the 2015 Race to Dubai and could move back inside the top-100 on the Official World Golf Ranking. Back in 2006, Howell (who is generally regarded as one of the best putters in world golf) climbed into the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
4. Sergio Garcia’s week was something of a rollercoaster ride. The Spaniard came into the tournament as a hot favourite following his playoff defeat by Rickie Fowler in the Players Championship. But after he’d finished two rounds in three-over par, he looked in danger of missing the cut in Barcelona. Only strengthening winds saw him sneak through to the weekend as late starters on Friday struggled.
A third round of 67 pushed Garcia right back into contention and, just five behind with 18 holes to play, it looked like there might be the chance of a memorable comeback. He couldn’t make it happen, though. A lacklustre final round of 73 saw Sergio end the week down in a tie for 22nd place.