Late eagle helps Charl Schwartzel to victory
Charl Schwartzel claimed his second European Tour title when a late eagle earned the 22-year-old South African victory in the Spanish Open on Sunday by a stroke from India's Jyoti Randhawa.
Schwartzel came through with a closing five-under 67 to total 272, 16-under, after playing 32 holes on the final day in an event badly disrupted by the weather.
The young Johannesburg professional added to his 2005 Dunhill Championship success by virtue of two telling putts.
His 15-footer for eagle on the 16th separated him from the pack but a spectacular 60ft birdie putt on the eighth had set Schwartzel on his way, helping to blot out the memory of a bad finish only two hours before.
When he had finished off his third round Schwartzel double-bogeyed the 18th to fall three strokes behind the eventual leader Carlos Rodiles of Spain.
The finale, in a week where 12 hours was lost to the elements, was highlighted by putts sunk and missed.
With Schwartzel bogeying the last, Randhawa's miss from three feet to bogey the 15th in the final round proved costly as he shot a 67.
Rodiles finished two strokes behind Schwartzel in third place. When the home favourite missed from five feet for eagle on the 16th it visibly checked his momentum and a bogey on 18 for a 72 denied him a share with Randhawa.
Scharwtzel, now rising to sixth in the European money-list and into the world rankings top 50, showed great maturity in bouncing back from his bad finish to the third round but the young South African was grateful for a break to calm him down.
He said: "It was a good thing I could have some lunch after that double, even if it was only 20 minutes, because I was steaming."
His victory will now earn him a place in the U.S. Tour's Players Championship at Sawgrass in two weeks time.
Runner-up Randhawa showed the burgeoning golfing strength in India as he came close to his maiden victory and achieving the second victory from the sub-continent after Jeev Milkha Singh's Volvo Masters success last October.
It was a brave fightback by Randhawa from an opening 75 in which he lay five-over after 12 holes, as he tried to make it a weekend Indian double following Gaurav Ghei's Beijing Open win on the Asian Tour.
"I thought I had shot myself out of contention in the first round," he said, "but I knew I had only had one really bad hole so I just kept plugging away."
Rodiles, who has three second places to his record, held a two-shot lead going into the final round but had to console himself with his best finish for some time.
The Spaniard bogeyed the 72nd hole but held off fourth placed Britons Simon Dyson and Mark Foster by a shot.