Fasth Holds Off Garcia in Spain


2006 Mallorca ClassicMALLORCA, Spain -- Niclas Fasth cruised to a 2-under 68 Sunday to earn a three-stroke win at the Mallorca Classic.
Fasth completed the event at 5-under-par 275. It was his fifth career win on tour and second of the season. He was also victorious at the Andalucia Open, which was also played in Spain.
'I've had a somewhat average summer, but I felt the last few weeks that the game was starting to come together again,' stated Fasth. 'I'm having a bit more fun and relaxing a bit more. I played good this week. It was fantastic to win again.'
This was the first time a Spaniard did not win the crown. The former champions here included Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Garcia, the 2004 champion, finished second for the second straight year. Garcia closed with a 68 of his own to end at 2-under-par 278.
Spain's Jose Manuel Lara posted a Sunday 67 to end in a share of third at minus-1. He was joined there by Marc Warren (70). Peter O'Malley took fifth at even-par 280 after struggling to a 2-over 72 in the final round.
Gary Murphy, who entered the week holding onto the last spot to keep his tour card for next year, struggled badly on Sunday. Murphy, who shared the third-round lead with Fasth, closed with a 6-over 76 that dropped him into a tie for 13th. However, he easily retained his tour card for next season, moving to 104th on the Order of Merit.
Fasth opened with five straight pars before two-putting for birdie on the par-5 sixth. That got him to minus-4, where he shared the lead with Murphy. but it would be the last time there was a tie for the lead.
Murphy bogeyed the seventh and eighth at Pula Golf Club to fall two behind Fasth.
Fasth missed the green long at the ninth and was unable to get up and down to save his par. That bogey dropped him to minus-3, where his lead was one.
The Swede bounced right back with a 10-foot birdie putt on 10 to regain his two-stroke cushion. After three routine pars, Fasth pushed his drive into the right rough off the 14th tee.
He hit a solid shot that, after just clearing the water fronting the green, rolled to 14 feet. Fasth drained the birdie putt to get to minus-5, three shots clear of Garcia.
'Sometimes you feel really good about a shot and I did with that. I hit the same shot earlier in the round on seven and it ended up really well,' admitted Fasth. 'So that was the same shot again, it felt great and I'm really proud of that one. To follow up with the birdie there, that felt really good.'
Fasth didn't make it easy on himself down the stretch, but he closed with four straight pars to secure the win. He needed to get up and down for par on each of the last two holes and did just that.
'To be able to relax and enjoy the last hole, it's not often you get a chance to do that,' Fasth said. 'I was three shots clear and I shouldn't really mess that up.'
Garcia never threatened the lead, but was able to take second thanks to three birdies and a bogey.
Paul McGinley closed with a 3-under 67 to join Soren Kjeldsen (70) in a share of sixth place at 1-over-par 281. Ricardo Gonzalez, Gregory Havret, Robert Karlsson, Benn Barham and Robert-Jan Derksen finished one stroke further back at minus-2.
The other big battle at this event was for those trying to keep their tour card for next year. Ian Garbutt ended in a tie for 64th this week, but it was enough for him to move from 121st to 118th on the Order of Merit, meaning he was the last player to secure his card for next season.
That move meant David Drysdale was the last man out as he finished 119th for the second straight year. He does have a chance to secure his tour card for next year through the Challenge Tour. If Drysdale cannot do it there, he will need to go through Qualifying School to try for his 2007 tour card.
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