Martin dreams up a fitting Spanish finale

It was always going to be the last final of the Alfred Dunhill Cup, but whether it would prove a lasting memory was in doubt until Miguel Angel Martin inspired Spain to a dramatic victory over South Africa. Martin had replaced last year's winning captain, Sergio Garcia, but Spain successfully retained their title, and theirs will remain the last name on the trophy.

It was always going to be the last final of the Alfred Dunhill Cup, but whether it would prove a lasting memory was in doubt until Miguel Angel Martin inspired Spain to a dramatic victory over South Africa. Martin had replaced last year's winning captain, Sergio Garcia, but Spain successfully retained their title, and theirs will remain the last name on the trophy.

They did it the hard way, retrieving unpromising positions in their last three matches. In their final group match on Saturday against Sweden, Jose-Maria Olazabal came back from five behind Mathias Gronberg to win the crucial point.

Then, in yesterday morning's semi-finals, Olazabal was four behind after four against Angel Cabrera but again ended victorious as Spain beat Argentina 2-1. Ollie had won all four of his matches entering the final only to lose by two strokes to Ernie Els, for whom an outstanding record of five wins out of five was no consolation.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was always in command against Retief Goosen, usually South Africa's strongman in this event, so the top match became the pivotal encounter. David Frost led by one with two to play but then made the cardinal sin of following Martin over the 17th green on to the road.

Both ended up with double-bogey sixes to maintain the one-stroke difference. But while Frost could only par the last, Martin tied the match with a remarkable birdie. His wedge shot almost went into the hole on the fly but hit the pin and rebounded, cruelly, into the Valley of Sin.

But, not unlike Costantino Rocca at the 1995 Open, Martin took a putter from 40 feet and holed out. Where he had thrown his visor on the ground in disgust moments earlier, Martin now threw it to the heavens in celebration. "It was an incredible putt, unbelievable," he said.

Frost, perhaps rattled, almost drove out of bounds on the right of the first in the play-off. But, after Martin had parred the hole, the South African's most costly mistake was in three-putting, missing from eight feet to prolong the final. For the 38-year-old Martin, it was a special moment. In 1997, what should have been the proudest point in his career, playing in the Ryder Cup at Valderrama, was ruined by injury and summary ejection from the European team.

"We did not have Sergio this week but I am very proud of Jimenez and Martin," said Olazabal. "Martin is not big in size but he has the heart of a lion. He made it possible."

Wales, defeated by South Africa in the morning, had reached the semi-finals for the third time by emerging top of the group which included Scotland, the No 1 seeds, England and Germany. But as on their previous two visits to the last-four, they progressed no further. Phillip Price was undefeated for the week but his match with Goosen, halved in 68s, was irrelevant once the top two games had been lost.

It was apparent fairly early on that Wales were in trouble when Ian Woosnam trailed by four to Frost at the turn and David Park was a similar margin adrift of Els. A pair of double bogeys at the 16th and 17th condemned Park to an eight-stroke defeat, while Woosie's 76 was too many by six.

Woosnam had won a scrappy encounter with Colin Montgomerie at the second extra hole on Saturday and was hoping for an improvement in his putting that never materialised. The former Masters champion is back with the long putter, but found judging pace over the undulations in the huge greens an elusive art. "I was shocking on the greens," Woosnam said. "It wasn't even golf. I didn't play well all week but instead of improving, I got worse." Over the winter, he plans to practise on an Astroturf green at home. "I hope by this time next year, I'm back with the short putter."

It was Argentina's first visit to the semis but only Eduardo Romero continued his form from the first three days to beat Jimenez by two strokes. Cabrera started in fine style by birdieing the first three holes and adding another at the fifth, but bogeys at the last two holes handed victory to Olazabal.

Next year the tournament reverts to being a regular European Tour event that will count towards the Order of Merit. The twist is that it will be a pro-am featuring a number of celebrities and played overthree courses, with the Old Course as the host venue.

RESULTS

SEMI-FINALS

*4 South Africa bt 8 Wales 2-0

D Frost 70 bt Ian Woosnam 76; E Els 69 bt David Park 77; R Goosen 68 halved with Phillip Price 68.

3 Spain bt 2 Argentina 2-1

J-M Olazabal 69 bt A Cabrera 71; M A Jimenez 71 lost to E Romero 69; M A Martin 71 bt J Coceres 72.

FINAL

Spain bt South Africa 2-1

Martin 74 bt Frost 74 at first extra hole; Jimenez 70 beat Goosen 71; Olazabal 70 lost to Els 68. *seedings

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman, Peter Capaldi and Nick Frost star in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran