Date: May 05, 2008

Fowler falls in Spain

Dubliner Peter Lawrie finally became a European Tour winner at the 175th attempt – and made it three Irish wins in a row. New Zealander Gareth Paddison moved up a couple of spots on the final day with a closing 71 to finish at eight-under and in a tie for 20th, one shot ahead of Australian Peter Fowler who slipped from equal sixth at the start of the day following a final-round 75. The only other Australasian left in the field, Matthew Millar, was well down the leaderboard at one-under. On a dramatic final day to the Spanish Open in Seville Lawrie prevented Ignacio Garrido creating Tour history when he won a play-off at the second extra hole. Garrido was seeking to emulate his father Antonio, winner in 1972, and kept his hopes alive when he sank a closing 30-foot birdie putt to tie on 15-under-par. He was the one then poised for first place when he pitched to three feet as they went into sudden death. However, 34-year-old Lawrie made a 25-footer for a matching birdie three and Garrido&aposs next pitch to the same green spun back into the water. “I&aposm not a party person, but I will enjoy this,” said Lawrie after following the lead of his room-mate Damien McGrane and Darren Clarke, winners of the two previous Tour events in China. The closest he had come to success before was in the same tournament in 2003 when he lost a play-off to England&aposs Kenneth Ferrie. He has now put that firmly behind him, but although Garrido has captured the Tour&aposs flagship PGA Championship – that was also five years ago – it will be a massive disappointment to him that he has now finished a runner-up in the Spanish Open three times. The former Ryder Cup player led by a massive seven strokes when he signed for a course record 63 on Friday and was still three clear entering the final round. Lawrie was five adrift then and still four behind after an outward 35, but he birdied the long 13th and then had three more in succession from the 15th, the last of them courtesy of a 40-foot putt. “I&aposve three bullets to dodge and if I dodge them I&aposm the winner,” he commented as he waited to see what happened to the players still out on the course. Dane Soren Hansen had a 12-foot chance to tie, but missed, then Miguel Angel Jimenez – in front until he put two balls in the water on the 10th and ran up a triple bogey seven – fell out of the running as well. That left only one bullet, but Garrido was eventually also unable to stop Lawrie breaking his duck. As for his putt on the first play-off hole, the 2003 Rookie of the Year, an Irish international at all levels as an amateur, commented: “It was a one in a million chance and it went in.” “I thought it was going to stop short left and it snuck in. I&aposd love to see a replay of myself.” Lawrie, normally calmness personified, went into an Irish jig. But there was more work to be done and despite pushing his next tee shot into sand he found the green and a par four was good enough after Garrido&aposs error. “It&aposs nice to keep it in the Irish contingent,” he added. “It spurs you on – you play practice rounds with them and think &aposwhy can&apost I do it&apos?” But now he has and as a result he has moved from 88th to 12th on the Order of Merit and into 19th spot in the Ryder Cup race. Hansen and Jimenez would have leapt to sixth in the cup standings by winning, but ended up third and joint fourth respectively. Alongside Jimenez were English pair David Lynn and Richard Finch and little-known Spaniard Alfredo Garcia, while Clarke&aposs closing 73 left him 22nd and a 74 from Colin Montgomerie put him 70th of the 75 players who made the cut. Final scores from the Spain Open, Real Club de Golf de Sevilla -15: Peter Lawrie 68, 70, 68, 67, Ignacio Garrido 66, 63, 72, 72 -14: Soren Hansen 68, 70, 67, 69 -13: Alfredo Garcia-Heredia 69, 69, 69, 68, Angel Jimenez 70, 67, 67, 71, David Lynn 70, 66, 73, 66 -12: Richard Finch 72, 69, 67, 68 -11: Martin Erlandsson 65, 68, 73, 71, Peter Hanson 74, 67, 69, 67 -10: Robert-Jan Derksen 71, 68, 69, 70, Niclas Fasth 72, 69, 71, 66, Andrew McLardy 72, 65, 69, 72, Alexander Noren 74, 64, 70, 70, Danny Willett 73, 70, 64, 71 -9: Pablo Martin 72, 70, 67, 70, Hennie Otto 72, 66, 71, 70, Marco Ruiz 70, 66, 69, 74 -8: Eduardo De La Riva 74, 65, 71, 70, Michael Jonzon 72, 68, 69, 71, Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 73, 69, 67, 71 Also: -7: Peter Fowler (Australia) 70, 66, 70, 75 -1 Matthew Millar (Australia) 70, 72, 76, 69