Garcia edges Ilonen in play-off hole to win Qatar Masters

The Spaniard defeated Finland’s Mikko Ilonen at the third extra hole in Doha and will be back in the top-10 world rankings with the win.

Sergio Garcia of Spain hits his shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club in Doha on Saturday. Garcia won after he birdied the third extra hole to beat Finland's Mikko Ilonen in a playoff. Osama Faisal / AP Photo
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Sergio Garcia said a relaxed approach to the Qatar Masters play-off was the secret behind his success as he claimed the title in Doha on Saturday.

The Spaniard defeated Finland’s Mikko Ilonen at the third extra hole after the pair had finished locked together on 16 under after 72 holes.

A birdie there proved enough for Garcia to prevail and pick up the victory that will move him back into the top-10 world rankings when the new list is published today.

Of how he had coped with being in the play-off, Garcia said: “I almost feel less pressure because you feel like you’ve had a great week already and if you win it’s kind of like a little bit of a bonus.

“It’s been an amazing week already and I was definitely more nervous on my tee shot on the 18th [in regulation] than in the play-off. That’s probably why I hit three better tee shots.”

A closing 65 saw Garcia, who missed out by one shot in last year’s tournament to Chris Wood, set the clubhouse target of 16 under par, but the 33-year-old Spaniard crucially missed from eight feet for a birdie on the last and then looked on as Ilonen birdied the 16th and 18th to complete a 66 and force extra holes.

The players returned to the 18th for the play-off and both found the green on the par five in two, Ilonen missing his eagle attempt from 25ft before Garcia did likewise from half the distance.

A second visit to the 18th failed to identify a winner, Ilonen missing an eagle attempt from 25ft after Garcia had got up and down from a greenside bunker.

But Garcia came good at the third time of asking after Ilonen had found the bunker, and he added: “It feels good.

“It’s funny because I started the day thinking if I can shoot six or seven under maybe I can have a chance, and it turns out I had a very similar putt that I had last year to get it to 17 under on 18; I hit a good putt and unfortunately it didn’t break.”

Ilonen said: “I hit two poor bunker shots out of the same front right-hand trap, one in regulation and one in the play-off, and I’m not going to blame anything else.”

Thorbjorn Olesen missed from 12ft for an eagle on the 18th, the Dane sharing third place with Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

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