Canizares Cruises to Russian Open Title


European Tour MOSCOW, Russia -- It's unlikely anyone will notice, but no one has ever played better at the Russian Open.
With the world's best golfers competing nine time zones away at the PGA Championship, Spain's Alejandro Canizares earned his first career win and set multiple records Sunday at this obscure European Tour stop.
The son of four-time Ryder Cup player Jose Maria Canizares, Alejandro closed with a 6-under 66 and ended at 22-under-par 266 for a four-shot victory over David Drysdale of Scotland.
Finishing all four rounds with a 67 or better, Canizares became the quickest affiliate member to win on the European Tour, claiming title No. 1 in just his third start and surpassing better-known previous record holders Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell.
Canizares also established a new tournament scoring record, beating by three shots the previous mark of 269 held by four players. He earned $166,165 and a two-year exemption on the European Tour.
'This is unbelievable,' Canizares exclaimed. 'This means everything. I was trying to get my card through exemptions and now I have done it by winning my third event, so this is way beyond my expectations.'
The Russian Open was a fully-fledged European Tour event for the first time this season. In its first nine years -- initially a Challenge Tour event, then a dual-ranking event -- the tournament had a history of producing indistinguishable champions.
Canizares, who will turn 23 next month, is the newest of the bunch.
'Now I can focus on winning more,' said Canizares, who missed the cut at this year's British Open in his European Tour debut.
Since missing the cut at Royal Liverpool, Canizares has finished better in each tournament he's played. He placed 71st at the Players Championship of Europe, then tied for seventh last week at the KLM Open.
'This is probably the best that I have played so far in my career,' he said Sunday. 'One of my best weeks ever.'
The overnight leader Saturday, Canizares fended off all challengers Sunday with a round that included seven birdies and one bogey. He opened with consecutive birdies, then closed in style with birdies at the 16th and 17th holes.
Seven of the next eight finishers all broke par, but Canizares was just that much better.
Drysdale closed with a 3-under 69 to end four shots back at 18-under 270 for his best finish since winning the final Challenge Tour event at the end of the 2004 season.
The 31-year-old Scotsman, who claimed his second Challenge Tour victory earlier this season, was complimentary of Sunday's winner.
'He played brilliantly,' Drysdale said of Canizares. 'I started one behind him and leveled with him at one stage, but he never flinched. Some of his iron play was awesome.'
Sweden's Mikael Lundberg, also a first-time winner at this event last year, shot a 6-under 66 and tied for third place with Ireland's Gary Murphy (68) at 17-under 271.
Swede Leif Westerberg was fifth at 16-under, Brazilian Alexandre Rocha was sixth at 15-under, and Spaniard Carlos Rodiles was seventh at 14-under.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Russian Open