CRANS-SUR-SIERRE, Switzerland – Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez saw off a late challenge from Edoardo Molinari of Italy to win the European Masters by three strokes on Sunday.
Jimenez secured his third European Tour victory of the year, following wins in Dubai and France, after shooting a 4-under 67 for a final 21 under total of 263.
Molinari also shot a 67 to finish second, while Italian teenager Matteo Manassero was third, two shots back, after carding a 68.
Despite his convincing victory margin, the 46-year-old Jimenez faced a testing spell during the final round.
After leading by three shots going into the final round, the Spaniard extended that advantage to six as he covered his first nine holes in 4-under.
But in the space of four holes that lead was cut to just one stroke as Molinari produced birdies at the 12th and 14th holes, and then holed a 2-foot eagle putt at the par five 15th.
With Jimenez having bogeyed the 14th, there was a chance that Molinari might produce a late dash for the line for the second weekend running. At the Johnnie Walker Championship, he birdied the last three holes to come from behind and win.
Jimenez, however, produced a superb up and down after hitting a tree at the par-3 16th, which Molinari bogeyed after finding a green side bunker.
The Spaniard then birdied the 17th to ensure a long awaited victory in the Swiss Mountains. It was his 22nd appearance in the European Masters and his best previous finishes had been second place in 1993 and 2004.
“It was not easy,” Jimenez said. “At one point I was six ahead of Edoardo, but at the 14th I missed the fairway with my drive and went into a bunker, missed the green with the third shot, and missed a putt for a par.
“That was a lot of misses and Edoardo hit two superb shots to two feet at the 15th where I struggled just to make par. But it feels good to win after so many visits to these mountains where not only had I finished second twice but also been in contention many times. So I really wanted to come here and win this tournament.”
The 17-year-old Manassero, appearing in his sixth tournament as a professional, won $161,445. That took him past the earnings target to qualify for his first full tour playing card in 2011.
Manassero could not hide his delight, saying: “I am now a full member of the European Tour for the first time, which is great. It has been my goal since I turned professional earlier this year, something I wanted to do and making my card is fantastic.”
South Korea’s Noh Seungyul finished fourth after a 67 took him to 13 under, three shots behind Manassero.