James Morrison planned to celebrate his first European Tour title for five years in style tonight.
After producing a brilliant final round display to claim a handsome four shot victory at the Open de España at El Prat GC, near Barcelona, he quipped: “You try and enjoy it now; I’ve been off the booze this week for the first time in ages, so I’m very thirsty!”
The 30 year old Englishman, whose previous European Tour title came in Madeira five years ago, had shared the lead with compatriot David Howell at the start of the day after a third round 68 in fast and windy conditions.
With the breeze up again in the final round, Morrison’s flawless closing 69 blew the field away as he led throughout.
Although Howell, Francesco Molinari and defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez all threatened to put him under pressure, a run of eight straight pars on the back nine saw Morrison reach the 18th with a three shot lead.
He finished in style with a birdie from ten feet to earn the biggest prize of his career and €250,000, with victory taking him from 296th in the Official World Golf Ranking to just outside the top 160 and completing a return to form after he had to regain his card at Qualifying School in 2013.
Four players – Jimenez, Howell, Molinari and Frenchman Edouard Espana – shared second spot.
He added: “It feels amazing. It’s been five years and I’ve had a lot of chances between then and now to win and haven’t done it but I drew on all my experience and got over the line.
“The game plan was to stick to my process – I know it’s a cliché but it’s true.”