/ 14 November 2011

Fernandez-Castano wins Singapore Open play-off

Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won the $1-million Barclays Singapore Open play-off on the second extra hole early on Monday after lightning storms forced a 17-hour interruption.

The 31-year-old from Madrid seized victory with a nine-foot birdie putt on the par-five 18th hole as opponent Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines pushed his effort just wide.

The conclusion was witnessed by just a smattering of fans at Sentosa Golf Club who braved a 7.30am start after the play-off was twice interrupted and finally postponed a day earlier.

Pagunsan (33) had a golden chance to deliver the Philippines’ first ever European Tour win on the first extra hole but he pushed his five-foot birdie putt just left.

Juvic missed a 10-footer on the second hole and Fernandez-Castano made him pay as he drained his putt for victory. Four of the Spaniard’s five European Tour wins have been in play-offs.

“This is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been on a golf course,” said Fernandez-Castano, who admitted he had been unable to sleep on Sunday night before breaking his three-year win drought.

“I got lucky, I have to say. He had a very good putt on the first hole which he deserved to have holed. Fortunately for me he didn’t. But that’s golf, play-offs are like that.”

Juvic said he knew his chance was gone as soon as his first-hole putt crept wide. But he was delighted to have shot to the top of the Asian money list with his $666 660 second prize.

“I thought, ‘this is my big chance’,” said the Filipino. “But I missed it. But I’m still a big winner.”

Fernandez-Castano had taken control of the rain-hit event at par-71 Sentosa with a 10-under-par second round and got a major slice of luck when the tournament was slashed to 54 holes after downpours washed out most of Saturday.

He took a four-shot lead into the last nine holes of regulation play but nerves set in and the Spaniard appeared to have blown his chance when he drove into the water on the 18th.

Pagunsan sank a 12-footer at the last to seemingly snatch a famous victory before Fernandez-Castano rolled in a long par putt to force the play-off.

The pair finished ahead of a clutch of major-winners at the $6-million event with Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Louis Oosthuizen all in their wake. — AFP