Sergio Garcia claimed his 11th European Tour title in dramatic fashion after a nail-biting play-off with Mikko Ilonen at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, writes the European Tour.
In fast fading light at Doha Golf Club, Garcia eventually saw off the Finn with a birdie at the third extra hole to collect the €305,232 winner’s cheque and move to second place in The Race to Dubai.
After both men had finished on 16 under par – Garcia courtesy of a superb round of 65 and Ilonen with a 66 – the duo halved the first two play-off holes with birdie fours.
Third time around, Ilonen’s tee shot found the right rough and his approach ended up in the bunker, giving Garcia – who had located the heart of the green with his second shot – the chance to win it with an eagle three, only for his putt to roll agonisingly past the cup.
Faced with a 20 foot putt to take the play-off into a fourth hole, Ilonen’s effort drifted wide to hand Garcia his first European Tour victory since the 2011 Andalucía Masters.
The Spaniard said: “It’s been a bit of a wait for my 11th win, I came close a few times last season, including here in Qatar, but didn’t quite manage to get the job done. So it’s nice to get the win, and great to get more Ryder Cup points on the board.
“I feel like my game’s coming together really nicely – although I wouldn’t have said that after the first round, when I played terribly but shot one of the best rounds of 71 in my career. So to recover from that and grind out a win does an awful lot for my confidence, and the rest of the season excites me.”
Despite tasting defeat in the first play-off of his career, Ilonen was still pleased with his week’s work.
He said: “I played good golf this week, so I can’t be too disappointed. I gave it my best shot, but Sergio was a bit better this time. There’s no shame in losing to a great player like him.”
Garcia’s compatriot Rafa Cabrera-Bello finished in a tie for third place on 15 under par alongside Thorbjørn Olesen after the pair carded respective rounds of 69 and 68.
Simon Thornton closed with a 71 to finish tied for 43rd on five under and earn a cheque for €9,340 while Michel Hoey's 74 left him joint 61st on two under with two-time major winner John Daly.
Hoey earned €5,036 while European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley was 63rd on one under after a 72.
Following the first eight events of the 2014 season, Rory McIlroy (€171,338) is the leading Irish golfer in the Race to Dubai, ranked 22nd behind leader Thomas Bjorn.
Pádraig Harrington (€116,761) is 36th after two starts with Hoey 52nd (€76,284) after six events, Darren Clarke 75th (€47,927) after two, Thornton 76th (€47,033) after six, McGinley 104th (€26,252) after three, David Higgins 105th (€22,612) after two, Kevin Phelan 125th (€15,300) after four, Damien McGrane 134th (€12,695) after five, Gareth Maybin 145th (€10,293) after four.
Shane Lowry and Peter Lawrie have yet to make a cut after two and five events respectively.
Meanwhile, the Qatar Golf Association and the European Tour have announced a three-year extension of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, guaranteeing the tournament until at least 2017.
This week's US$2.5 million event was the 17th staged at Doha Golf Club, which will remain the host venue.
Final Round Scores
Garcia 4 4 4
Ilonen 4 4 5
272 S Garcia (Esp); M Ilonen (Fin);
273 R Cabrera-Bello (Esp); T Olesen (Den);
274 G Coetzee (RSA); A Cañizares (Esp); S Webster (Eng); T Aiken (RSA);
275 D Van Der Walt (RSA); M Carlsson (Swe);
276 P Lawrie (Sco); R Wattel (Fra);
277 B Grace (RSA); C Del Moral (Esp); S Benson (Eng);
278 D Fichardt (RSA); S Dyson (Eng); J Carlsson (Swe); A Saddier (Fra); P Uihlein (USA); D Foos (am) (Ger);
279 M Baldwin (Eng); G Bhullar (Ind); P Hanson (Swe); F Zanotti (Par); R Rock (Eng); T Hatton (Eng);
280 J Quesne (Fra); K Broberg (Swe); S Gallacher (Sco); A Quiros (Esp); H Stenson (Swe);
281 S Kapur (Ind); R Bland (Eng); G Stal (Fra); T Jaidee (Tha);
282 T Lewis (Eng); H Otto (RSA); E Els (RSA); B Koepka (USA); A Wall (Eng); S Hansen (Den);
283 M Siem (Ger); D Willett (Eng); R Fisher (Eng); C Lee (Sco); R Derksen (Ned); R Santos (Por); J Singh (Ind); C Wood (Eng); S Manley (Wal); R Dinwiddie (Eng); S Thornton (Irl);
284 F Calmels (Fra); R Karlsson (Swe); M Fraser (Aus);
285 M Kaymer (Ger); L Donald (Eng); M Foster (Eng); S Kjeldsen (Den);
286 M Hoey (Nir); J Daly (USA);
287 J Olazábal (Esp); E Pepperell (Eng); P McGinley (Irl); J Morrison (Eng);
288 C Doak (Sco); N Elvira (Esp); W Ormsby (Aus);
289 J Lima (Por); M Crespi (Ita);
290 V Riu (Fra); J Dufner (USA);
291 E Grillo (Arg);
292 T Fleetwood (Eng);
293 L Slattery (Eng).