Gonzalez's late surge earns title

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The Independent Online

On the same course where he hopes to represent Argentina in the World Cup in November, Ricardo Gonzalez won the Seville Open yesterday - thanks to a 40-foot birdie putt at the 18th.

Trailing England's Jonathan Lomas and the Scot Stephen Gallacher with five holes to play, the 34-year-old managed to birdie three of them for a two-stroke victory.

Starting the day five behind the South American, Lomas holed-in-one at the third and also eagled the fifth, but he recorded a bogey at the last for a 66 and had to wait to see if it had cost him a play-off.

Gallacher, nephew of the former Ryder Cup captain Bernard, was trying for his first European Tour win in 170 starts, but he bogeyed the 15th and, after driving behind a tree on the long 16th, had to settle for three closing pars and a round of 68.

That left Gonzalez needing only a four on the 432-yard 18th for his third title on the circuit, but he finished in style to take the £110,081 first prize with a 14-under-par total of 274.

If he does make the World Cup side - Angel Cabrera and Eduardo Romero are currently ahead of him in the world rankings - he will be keeping his fingers crossed that the organisers don't grow the rough.

In his third round 69, Gonzalez found only one fairway and in repeating that score on the last day he hit only four of them. "That's the best finish of my life," he said. "And I think this will open the door to the top 50 in the world. That is my objective."

Raul Ballesteros, the 23-year-old nephew of Severiano, who had been joint leader after 37 holes, fell back to 33rd with closing scores of 74 and 75. It still represented the highest finish of his career so far, however.

Meanwhile, England's Justin Rose and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke were among a group of four golfers tied for ninth place at the Heritage in South Carolina after day three.

Rose continued to power up the leaderboard after adding a five-under-par 66 to earlier scores of 73 and 69, but Clarke slipped back from fourth at halfway after a 71.

Both were seven shots adrift of Ted Purdy at 12-under. He has a four-shot lead over Heath Slocum (70), while Stephen Ames (68) and Patrick Sheehan (69) share third on seven-under.

Ernie Els (68) is among a group of four on six-under while overnight leader Ben Curtis fell back to four-under after a 75.

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