Wednesday 23 August 2017

Open spot eases pain for Garcia

Bernie McGuire , in Munich

Sergio Garcia will extend his run of Major appearances to 49 after earning a place in next month's British Open despite losing a play-off to compatriot Pablo Larrazabal in the BMW International Open in Munich yesterday.

The pair had turned the final round into an all-Spanish shootout, ending regulation play locked at 16-under par and with both posting final-round 68s on the Nord Eichenried course.

Larrazabal, who dedicated the win to his 88-year-old grandfather who passed away last week, prevailed at the fifth extra hole with a birdie to Garcia's par to win for only a second time on Tour and nearly three years after his 2008 French Open success. The Barcelona-born son of a fisherman had stunned Colin Montgomerie in winning that French Open title and he has now denied Garcia a first European Tour success in three years.

"Sergio was one of my heroes growing up and beating him is just a dream," he said. "But I am very much emotional because my grandad Manuel, the captain of our family, died last week. So there are so many emotions now and all of the work I did this week is for him."

Larrazabal also earned a place in the British Open by finishing ahead of Garcia in a 'mini' money list that has been in effect since last month's BMW PGA at Wentworth.

Garcia, who hasn't won since November 2008 when he captured the HSBC Champions event, roared into the lead in a six-hole stretch mid-round courtesy of three birdies from the sixth and then eagles at nine and 11.

But the world No 64 then dropped three shots in succession from the 12th hole and had another bogey at 17.

"I am not too unhappy because one of my goals this week was to definitely qualify for the Open and I have achieved that," said Garcia. "Pablo and I played some great golf in the play-off and it was a pity one of us had to lose.

"I was seventh last week in the US Open and now second here in Munich so the game is coming around and I am excited about the next couple of weeks, especially the Open as it is my favourite of all the Majors."

Five players -- Scotland's Scott Jamieson (64), England's Mark Foster (72), Holland's Joost Luiten (67) and the South African pair of Retief Goosen (70) and George Coetzee (70) -- shared third place at 14-under par.

Peter Lawrie was delighted with his efforts in his first event since the birth of his fourth child earlier this month.

The Dubliner dropped just one shot, a three-putt at the 12th, in a three-under-par 69 for a nine-under total and a share of 18th place with Monty (69) and visiting American Dustin Johnson (67).

"Given how little time I was able to spend practising during my month at home on paternity leave, I was really pleased with nine-under par," Lawrie said. "The bogey from three feet at 12 was disappointing as I missed a couple of those from the same length this week. Also I found myself struggling to clean up through the lack of match fitness."

And after missing out on US and British Open qualifying due to the birth of only son Christopher, Lawrie is hoping to secure one of two places up for grabs for Royal St George's at this week's French Open.

Lawrie's effort has kept him in 61st position in the Race to Dubai. Rory McIlroy remains the leading Irish player in third place on the money list.

Last year's US Open winner Graeme McDowell has dropped five places to 28th with fellow Ulsterman Darren Clarke slipping four to 47th after his decision to withdraw from the Munich event to help McIlroy celebrate.

Shane Lowry also dropped four to 48th after missing the cut in Germany.

Irish Independent

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