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Playoff joy for “Gonzo” at Barclays Singapore Open
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano triumphed in the much-delayed US$6 million Barclays Singapore Open after he tipped Filipino Juvic Pagunsan to the title by draining a 10-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole on Monday.
"It has been an amazing week. A very long week. It has been a difficult year for me. A back injury kept me away from the golf course for six months," said Fernandez-Castano, nicknamed "Gonzo", who won a cheque for a million dollars.
"When I came back I just wanted to play well again. The things I have done in this past month have been pretty amazing. Winning this Barclays Singapore Open is the icing on the cake."
The duo ended the weather-shortened tournament, dubbed "Asia's Major" and sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, tied on 14-under-par 199 after the third and final round at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course on Sunday but thunderstorms thwarted attempts to finish the playoff.
When play finally resumed early on Monday morning, it was the 31-year-old Spaniard who got the better of the man from the Philippines on the second playoff hole.
"It was a tough morning and also a tough night because I did not get much sleep," he said.
"It is probably the most nervous I have ever been on a golf course. It is a strange feeling. I have won four times on Tour in many playoffs but I have never been as nervous. I think the first suspension in the playoff helped me a bit."
Pagunsan, who possesses one of the best swings in Asia, had a chance to deliver the knockout blow on the first playoff hole but his five-foot putt agonizingly slipped by.
"It was very close. I thought I was going to make my first putt (on the first play-off hole)," said Pagunsan, whose sole Asian Tour victory was in 2007.
Commented Fernadez-Castano: "I was feeling the pressure and I managed to control myself. I got lucky. Juvic had a very good putt on the first playoff hole, which he deserved to have holed."
After hitting their third shots to within 10 feet of the pin at the second playoff hole, Pagunsan missed his birdie putt while Fernandez-Castano rolled in his to end a three-year title drought.
"I read the putt really good and hit my putt really good but the ball did not break much when it was close to the hole it went straight when it was supposed to turn left," said Pagunsan, whose consolation was a cheque for US$666,660, by far the biggest of his career.
The triumph was a welcome relief for Fernandez-Castano after having squandered a four-shot lead during the final round on Sunday.
"It has been a great relief, especially the way I played yesterday, having a four-shot lead and spoiling it all. It has been a tough year and I got a monkey off my back. It has been three years without a victory and it means a lot to me," said Fernandez-Castano, who jumped from 126th to 58th in the world with the victory.
Pagunsan said he hoped his heroics at the Barclays Singapore Open would be a harbinger for big times to come.
"Hopefully, (I can go on from here). I work hard every tournament. I prepare for every tournament. Who knows, maybe Juvic can play the big events (now)," said the 33 year old.
"I had big confidence I was going to win today. I missed out but I am still a big winner in myself."