Ricardo Gonzalez, the big-hitting Argentinian golfer known as "The Bull", won his second European tour title yesterday. The 34-year-old came from six strokes behind to win the Madrid Open here at Club de Campo by one, with a last round total of 65.
England's Paul Casey, who had been four shots clear overnight, the Irishman Padraig Harrington, the Australian left-hander Nick O'Hern and the Swede Marten Olander all failed to grab the birdie at the 349-yard 18th which would have forced a play-off.
Harrington, twice a winner on the course, also produced a 65, but paid for missing putts of six and 18 feet on the final two greens.
It was the 20th runner-up finish of his career, but on this occasion it was Casey who felt worst about just missing out. The 26-year-old had led from the time he opened with an eight-under-par 63 on Thursday, but bogeys at the seventh, ninth and 11th during a heavy downpour cost him dear.
Meanwhile Gonzalez was completing a marvellous run of eight birdies in 12 holes from the fourth. That swept the 2001 European Masters champion two in front, but he opened the door again by failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the last. Nobody was able to take advantage, though.
Gonzalez, who was only 87th on the Order of Merit going into the week, took the title with a 14-under-par total of 270.
A disappointed Casey said: "Leading by four, I thought I had at least one hand on the trophy, but I had 36 putts and you can't win a tournament with that number."
Harrington, out in 31 and then the leader by one after a birdie at the long 14th, commented: "I didn't know that I was out in front, but I didn't convert a couple of good shots at the end. I hit a bad putt on 17, but I was surprised to be long on the last. Six under is a good last round, though, and at the start of the day I didn't think I had a chance." He was seven shots behind Casey.
Sergio Garcia, watched by the Real Madrid player Ronaldo as he tried for his first victory of the year, needed to birdie one of the last two for a play-off, but instead bogeyed them and ended up in joint-sixth place.
Gonzalez said: "After three-putting the second I thought the tournament was over. I was seven behind and the will had left me. I didn't have any motivation, but then I started to play well, the door was opened and the light switched on for me."
Earlier, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, fourth and fifth on this year's European Order of Merit respectively, both pulled out. Poulter complained of a wrist injury while Westwood played two holes but then decided not to go on because of a neck strain.Reuse content