/ 13 October 2008

Flawless Schwartzel wins in Madrid

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel produced another flawless display of golf to secure his third European Tour victory at the Madrid Masters with a three-shot cushion over Ricardo Gonzalez on Sunday.

Schwartzel’s second consecutive five-under 66 handed him an impressive total of 265, 19-under for the tournament. Argentina’s Gonzalez was three shots further back and one ahead of Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal.

”I played very well again today,” said Schwartzel (24), who had been playing with a niggling shoulder injury. ”I woke up this morning and felt a lot better than I have been feeling. I thought I grinded it out nicely all week. I just managed to keep it going today.”

Schwartzel’s shoulder failed to hamper his performance over four days of unspectacular but steady play.

In the final round the South African failed, for the first time at the Club Campo de Villa Madrid, to register an eagle — which he did once in each of his three previous rounds.

However, another consistent round that included five birdies and no dropped shots proved more than enough to give Schwartzel the edge. By his fifth and last birdie at the 17th, it was virtually game over for his challengers.

Needing to overcome his one-shot deficit to have any chance of overtaking the South African, Gonzalez saw his victory chances fade slowly over a solid first nine that nevertheless failed to see him grab a birdie until the ninth hole.

Opening with a birdie at the 10th, Gonzalez dropped a shot at the 13th, then birdied the 14th and 17th holes to finish three shots off the pace.

The hopes of Spanish star Olazabal, making a third return to the tour after a series of injury setbacks, were buoyed after a promising first-round 70 on Thursday.

However, the former double Masters champion soon found the going tougher, just missing the cut on Friday before finishing with a two-over total of 286. — Sapa-AFP