McGowan holds nerve to win first Tour title

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The Independent Online

England's Ross McGowan lies second in the Ryder Cup points race after capturing his first European Tour title by three shots yesterday. Seven clear after his magical third-round 60 in the Madrid Masters at Centro Nacional, the 27-year-old from Surrey saw that advantage cut to only two by Finn Mikko Ilonen with four to play.

But a 10-foot birdie putt at the 15th eased his worries about blowing the biggest lead of the season. Even then McGowan was lucky on the par-five last when his second shot was pulled and finished on wooden sleepers just above the lake. He was able to save par and with a one-under-par 71 collected the £227,014 first prize with a 25-under-par total of 263.

"I came here this week in form and it's lovely to come away with the trophy," McGowen said. "Once I saw where some of the pins were it was a lot trickier and my game-plan was to hit as many greens as I could. It means a lot to win – that's another goal out of the way and hopefully I can progress and move on to bigger things."

Ilonen, the former British amateur champion, finished runner-up and after starting the week down in 159th place the result moved him well inside the top 115 who keep their cards for next season. After finding himself 12 adrift following an opening 74, Ilonen had rounds of 63, 63 and 66.

Scotland's David Drysdale, who was joint halfway leader with Sergio Garcia, closed with a 67 for third place, while the pre-tournament favourite Garcia could only manager 17th.

McGowan, the English amateur champion three years ago, began the cup campaign with a third-place finish in Switzerland last month and in his next start was sixth at the Alfred Dunhill Links last Monday.

He will remember his round of 60 on Saturday for as long as he plays, although it does not count as a Tour record-equalling round because placing was allowed on the wet fairways all week. At 24-under with a round to go he was one better than the all-time Tour record after 54 holes and Ernie Els' record final total of 29-under looked achievable.

But the day was all about securing his maiden victory and, in a shaky start, bogeys at the first and fourth gave hope to the chasing pack. A seven-foot putt on the long fifth appeared vital and by adding further birdies at the sixth and ninth the gap was back up to six. Still it was not easy, though. He three-putted the 11th while Ilonen birdied the 10th, 12th and 15th.

In February, McGowan had lost the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia from two ahead with six to play, but he kept his nerve this time.

Chinnaswamy Muniyappa claimed his maiden Asian Tour title after he beat Lee Sung in a play-off to win the Hero Honda Indian Open. The Indian held his nerve at the first extra hole to knock in a 10-foot birdie putt after Lee had missed from 12 feet. He had held a one-stroke lead going into yesterday's play and carded a two-under-par 70 at DLF Golf and Country Club after collecting four birdies against two bogeys.