Friday 20 April 2018

Italian victory just the tonic for 'Gonzo'

Karl MacGinty

SPAIN'S Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano insisted his stunning victory at the BMW Italian Open yesterday heralded his complete recovery from 'Ryder Cup-itis'.

So great was the determination of 'Gonzo' to make the team captained by his close friend Jose Maria Olazabal, it led him to "try too hard" this summer, with inevitable consequences.

During a conversation with Olazabal at the US PGA, the 31-year-old told the captain that once the qualifying race was run, he'd win either the KLM or Italian Open.

Fernandez-Castano certainly played liberated golf as he landed his second Italian Open title, especially during the flawless 64 which eased him two clear of Garth Mulroy, a bogey by the South African at 17 effectively ending yesterday's spectacular shoot-out.

Two men very much in the grip of Ryder Cup fever, Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts, completed their final outing before next week's intercontinental clash with a morale-boosting share of fifth.

Kaymer was "very relieved" to get his creaking long game back in shape over the past fortnight in Holland and Italy and the German now looks forward to a week sharpening up his chipping and putting for Medinah.

Colsaerts, who becomes Belgium's first Ryder Cup player after a captain's pick from Olazabal, will spend the next five days at Finca-Cortesin on the Costa del Sol, scene of his Volvo World Match Play victory in May, and getting his putter up to pace on the super-slick greens at Valderrama.

Shane Lowry, Ireland's best in 13th (worth €22,575) on 15-under, was slightly disappointed with his 69. It included seven birdies but, frustratingly, "a few loose shots" led to a double-bogey six at three and two dropped shots coming home.

Still, if the Clara man swings the club as nicely at the Dunhill Links and Portuguese Masters, he's likely to get into the top 60 in the Race to Dubai before going to US Q-School in Florida next month.

Today, Lowry has a company day for Cleveland at Lisbon's Penha Longa, followed by a short break on the Algarve, the All-Ireland football final on Sunday, watching the Ryder Cup (on TV) and the hurling final replay on Sunday week. Phew.

Michael Hoey's 'pencil' putting grip was heavily endorsed during the final-round 65 which clinched a 22nd on 13-under (worth €16,050).

Damien McGrane enjoyed two rounds with Hoey at the weekend, especially yesterday's, when they fired birdies at each other for fun, the Kells man's 66 leaving him in 27th (€13,125).

Gareth Maybin banked €9,750 in 35th on 11-under after a closing 69 which was matched by Peter Lawrie, the Dubliner earning €5,400 in 53rd.

Irish Independent

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