European Tour

Garcia wins thrilling playoff

Sergio Garcia (AFP)
Sergio Garcia (AFP)

Doha - Sergio Garcia became the second Spaniard after Alvaro Quiros to win the Qatar Masters when he edged Finland's Mikko Ilonen in a thrilling playoff at the Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

With the light fading fast, Garcia clinched the title with a birdie after both players had failed to break the deadlock in their first two attempts on the par five 18th hole.

However when they started all over again for the third time, Ilonen found the bunker and misread his putt from 12 feet, while Garcia two-putted for birdie to win his 11th title on the European Tour.

His last two titles in Europe came in 2011 when he won the Andalucia Masters and the Castello Masters.

With Saturday's win Garcia also made amends for dramatically losing out on the title last year in Qatar when Chris Wood's brilliant eagle on the 18th gave the Englishman his first and so far only European Tour victory.

Wood's feat left Garcia tied for second with South African George Coetzee.

In a dramatic final round on Saturday several players were in contention for the tile, but Garcia, who was three shots off the pace when play began, shot a bogey-free 65 for an aggregate of 16 under par 272 to put the chasing pack under pressure.

However, only Ilonen was up to the task as he sank a birdie from 20 feet on the 18th hole despite finding the bunker to sensationally tie with the Spanish ace.

Denmark's Thorbjrn Olesen was also in with a chance to make the playoff but, but dropped a shot on the 17th after finding the bunker. That left him needing an eagle on the last hole where he only managed a birdie to finish tied third with Rafa Cabrera-Bello on 15 under.

Garcia went into the tournament this year sensing something special after going close a few times.

"I've always loved competing at the Qatar Masters and I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to winning it," he had said before the start.

He showed plenty of character in tense situations on Saturday, especially on the 14th hole where he missed the green. But a sensational chip put him ahead of the field at 15 under with another birdie on the 16th taking him two shots clear.

Overnight joint leader Steve Webster missed several easy putts to be tied fifth on 14 under with Thomas Aiken, Coetzee and Alejandro Canizares.

Sergia Garcia won the 2.5 million dollar Qatar Masters after a thrilling play-off with Finland's Mikko Ilonen at the Doha Golf Club on Saturday.

After both players had birdied the 18th hole for the second time, Spaniard Garcia came out on top in the third attempt as Ilonen found the bunker and had to settle for par.

Garcia had finished joint runner-up with George Coetzee last year after Chris Wood's dramatic last hole eagle had denied him a possible win.

Leading scores after the fourth and final round of the Qatar Masters at the par-72 Doha Golf Club on Saturday:

Sergio Garcia beat Mikko Ilonen at the third hole in a playoff to clinch the title.

272 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 71-67-69-65, Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 68-67-71-66

273 - Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN) 68-69-68-68, Rafa Cabrera-Bello (ESP) 66-65-73-69

274 - Alejando Canizares (ESP) 68-68-73-65, George Coetzee (RSA) 64-69-73-68, Thomas Aiken (RSA) 67-68-70-69, Steve Webster (ENG) 65-69-70-70

275 - Magnus Carlsson (SWE) 69-71-70-65, Dawie Van der Walt (RSA) 65-72-70-68

276 - Romain Wattel (FRA) 67-68-74-67, Paul Lawrie (SCO) 67-70-69-70

277 - Carlos del Moral (ESP) 72-68-69-68, Seve Benson (ENG) 68-71-69-69, Branden Grace (RSA) 67-69-71-70

278 - Dominic Foos (GER) 70-70-70-68, Peter Ulhlein (USA) 70-69-69-70, Simon Dyson (ENG) 68-69-71-70, Darren Fichardt (RSA) 69-70-69-70, Johan Carlsson (SWE) 69-65-72-72, Adrien Saddier (FRA) 70-71-64-73

279 - Peter Hanson (SWE) 69-67-75-68, Tyrell Hatton (ENG) 69-71-71-68, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 67-70-73-69, Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 68-66-74-71, Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR) 69-6968-73

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