Sergio Garcia dedicated victory to the late Seve Ballesteros following a remarkable 11-shot win at his home Castello Masters yesterday – his first win for nearly three years.
"That was for Seve," said the 31-year-old after blowing the rest of the field away on the Mediterraneo course in Castellon, where he first won the club championship when he was just 12.
With a closing 63, Garcia, one over par after 10 holes of his first round, finished an incredible 27-under in his first appearance in Spain since Ballesteros died of brain cancer in May.
Although the performance will not enter the official record books, because placing on the fairways was allowed all week, it has been beaten only once on the European Tour. Ernie Els was 29-under in winning the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic.
It was also the biggest win of the Tour season by three strokes and there have only been two wider margins ever on the circuit – Tiger Woods took the 2000 US Open by 15 and Els the 2005 Asian Open by 13.
As for his own career, none of Garcia's previous 18 wins as a professional had been by more than four strokes. Happiness off the course with a new girlfriend has helped to lift Garcia out of the slump he went into when Greg Norman's daughter Morgan-Leigh ended their relationship two years ago.
He dropped from second in the world to outside the top 75, but is now inside the top 35 again. Tired after a long stint in America, Garcia took four weeks off before the tournament and said: "They were mother's milk for me – obviously they worked.
"It's hard to say that you expect to fire like I did, but I was feeling good and I've been improving all year."
So he has. He had top-12 finishes in the last three majors and lost a five-hole playoff to compatriot Pablo Larrazabal at the BMW International Open in Munich in June.
It was another Spaniard who came runner-up to him this time. Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, out of action for much of the season with back trouble, had a 64 to take second place on 16 under, one in front of Scot Richie Ramsay (65) and Swede Alex Noren (64).Reuse content