Saturday 1 October 2016

Johnston holds off Luiten and Garcia to seal Spanish 'dream'

Phil Casey

Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30

Andrew Johnston celebrates with the trophy yesterday after victory at the Open de Espana at Real Club Valderrama. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Andrew Johnston celebrates with the trophy yesterday after victory at the Open de Espana at Real Club Valderrama. Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

England's Andrew Johnston hailed a dream come true after holding off a final-day charge from tournament host Sergio Garcia to win his first European Tour title in the Spanish Open.

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Johnston carded a final round of 70 at Valderrama to finish on one-over par and a shot ahead of Holland's Joost Luiten, with Garcia another stroke back following a closing 67.

That was the lowest score of the day as the world number 16 took advantage of the calm and overcast conditions, but the 36-year-old Spaniard was left to rue missing from 10 feet for an eagle on the 17th and a bogey on the last.

"It's a dream come true really," said Johnston, 27, who became the first winner of a regular European Tour event with an over-par total since Ian Woosnam in the Scottish Open at Carnoustie in 1996.

"You always try to picture yourself coming down the last trying to hole that winning putt. It's pretty surreal.

"I came off the course and I just started crying with the emotion of it. I don't think it will hit me for a few days."

Crazy

Johnston added: "The last few years have been crazy, just seeing that steady improvement which is really positive. Hopefully that keeps going in the right way. The goal this year was to get a win and I can't believe it has happened this quick.

"Hopefully I can be one of those guys who has an incredible career like that and people are sitting here in the future going, 'Oh Beef's on there. It's pretty incredible'."

With overnight leader Michael Lorenzo-Vera quickly dropping down the leaderboard with three bogeys in the first four holes, two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer briefly enjoyed a two-shot lead when he holed from five feet for a birdie on the third.

However, playing partner Luiten then birdied the fourth and fifth to get on level terms before Kaymer bogeyed the seventh after a wild drive meant he had to chip out sideways from the trees.

Johnston had dropped a shot on the first, but then picked up shots on the seventh and eighth to join Luiten at the top of the leaderboard, before Luiten bogeyed the par-five 11th.

A three-putt bogey on the 14th cost Johnston the outright lead, but he responded superbly with a birdie from 20 feet on the 16th which ultimately proved decisive as Luiten was unable to find a birdie on the closing stretch.

Ireland's Paul Dunne picked up a cheque for €27,000 after the Greystones man carded an excellent closing 70 to finish eight shots back on nine-over, while compatriot Peter Lawrie was a further eight shots back after finishing with a 73.

On the US Tour, Branden Grace shot a final round of 66 to win the RBC Heritage tournament in California.

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