Spain win dramatic final Dunhill Cup

Miguel Angel Martin won a first hole playoff after a dramatic tie with David Frost today as defending champion Spain won the last Alfred Dunhill Cup by coming from behind to beat South Africa 2-1.

Miguel Angel Martin won a first hole playoff after a dramatic tie with David Frost today as defending champion Spain won the last Alfred Dunhill Cup by coming from behind to beat South Africa 2-1.

After forcing a playoff with a meandering final putt from the Valley of Sin at 18, Martin won the match for his country when Frost missed a three-footer at the first extra hole.

With Frost and Martin going to a playoff tied on 74, Miguel Angel Jimenez gave Spain the lead with a 70 to beat Retief Goosen by two and Ernie Els finished with a 68 to beat Jose Maria Olazabal by two and tie the championship low aggregate of 340.

Martin's comeback against Frost was an amazing finish to the final Dunhill Cup tournament, which is being replaced after 16 years by a completely different pro-am event called the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

After his approach to the 18th struck the flag and rolled back into the valley, he came up with an amazing long-range, winding putt that just about dropped in to force the playoff.

Then Frost missed his close range putt at the first extra hole and what had looked like being South Africa's third triumph in four years became Spain's second in a row.

Martin was thrilled by his match-tying putt at 18.

"The ball had hit the flag and there was so much spin that it went back 17 yards into the valley. From there, I was thinking about Costantino Rocca and the putt from the same place he holed at the (1995) Open here to force a playoff.

"I was exactly thinking that and that I still had a chance. I was a still a little bit lucky."

The two players went to the last with the South African one ahead after they had both suffered double bogey sixes at the 17th Road Hole.

It appeared all over the Spaniard - and effectively his team - when Martin's second at the last bounced in front of the flag, hit the pin and then rolled back into the ditch known as the Valley of Sin.

But he came up with an amazing putt from the valley, the ball rolling up the slope, onto the green and towards the hole, hanging on the edge before dropping in.

At the playoff, both players missed birdie putts before Martin made his par. All Frost had to do was hole a three-footer to tie but he missed it and the Spanish celebrations began.

"This is fantastic," Olazabal said after collecting the trophy for the second time in a row as well as the winning team's check for 300,000 pounds (dlrs 450,000).

"We are delighted with a magnificent week and the last three years. I will never forget this tournament."

Els, who won all five matches, had a great chance to beat Nick Price's five-round record of 340 but missed a short birdie putt at the last. His five rounds here were 68, 67, 68, 69 and 68 for a 20-under total.

In the semifinal earlier Sunday, South Africa scored a 2-0 victory over Wales with Frost carding a 70 to beat Ian Woosnam by six and ending the Welshman's winning run in the competition and Els making 69 to beat David Park by eight. Retief Goosen and Phillip Price were left all square on 69 with Welshman Price unbeaten in his four matches.

The Spaniards made it to the final for the third year in a row by edging Argentina 2-1.

Olazabal returned a 69 to beat Angel Cabrera by two and, although Argentine captain Eduardo Romero leveled the match with a 69 to beat Jimenez by two, Martin carded a 71 to edge Jose Coceres by one stroke in the deciding match.

"We're really proud to have got to the semifinals for the first time," Romero said. It's been a great week and I think we've done well."

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