Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano chipped in for birdie on the tough 17th hole that became more important than he realized in winning the BMW Masters on Sunday.
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The 33-year-old Spaniard was flawless at Lake Malaren until it no longer mattered. The birdie gave him a three-shot lead going to the final hole, and Fernandez-Castano needed every one of them. He hit into two bunkers and had to make a 2-foot putt for double bogey to close with a 4-under 68 and win by a shot.
No matter. The seventh win of his career was one of the biggest for Fernandez-Castano.
It got him into the HSBC Champions next week in Shanghai, and made him a contender in the Race to Dubai at No. 4 in the money list. He also moves into the top 50 in the world, which is important for him as he plays a full PGA Tour schedule for the first time.
Fernandez-Castano finished on 11-under 277, one shot clear of Francesco Molinari (64) and Thongchai Jaidee (66).
Luke Guthrie, the 23-year-old American making his first trip to Asia, lost the outright lead for the first time since Thursday when he missed a short par putt on the opening hole, and he never got it back. Guthrie didn’t make his first birdie until the 13th hole, and he closed with a 71 to finish fourth, two shots behind.
Defending champion Peter Hanson was 10-under for the final round until a bogey on the 18th dropped him to a 63, the low score of the tournament.
The Jack Nicklaus design was set up short, and with only a trace of wind, there was ample opportunity for low scoring. Everyone except the last two groups took advantage, setting up a final two hours when nearly a dozen players had an outside chance.
That’s when Fernandez-Castano seized control.
He took the outright lead with a birdie on the par-5 seventh hole and followed that with another birdie at No. 8.
Molinari came out of nowhere, playing the final six holes in 6-under, including an eagle on the par-5 13th.
"I thought I was a little too far back, to be honest," said Molinari, who began the day six shots behind. "I can just be happy with my round today. You never know in golf. But Gonzo, he’s a tough guy, and he knows how to win."
Fernandez-Castano hit all the right shots on the back nine — birdie on the par-4 11th that could be reached with a tee shot, a birdie on the 13th to match scores with Guthrie, another birdie on the 15th to again match birdies with Guthrie and keep him two shots behind. The key turned out to be the 17th, which Hanson earlier described as the toughest hole on the course Sunday with a back pin and water along the right.
Fernandez-Castano played away from the water, a solid shot just off the green and pin-high. His chip was true and gently hit the flagstick before falling for birdie. He sure made a mess of the last hole, however.
His tee shot cleared the water and landed in a bunker. He smartly blasted out to the fairway, but then badly missed his third shot into a right bunker. The Spaniard hit his best shot of the hole, using the slope to finish 8 feet away. Two putts were all he needed, though the first stroke looked tentative.
He stepped back away from the cup after knocking in the last putt, raising both arms over his head.
Peter Uihlein made four birdies on the back nine for a 67 that gave him a share of fifth place with Thomas Bjorn, keeping both of them in the top 10 on the European Tour money list with three more events before the World Tour Championship in Dubai.