Andres Romero birdied the final hole to win his first victory on the European Tour in a decade, finishing one shot clear of Richard Bland, Thomas Detry and Masters Champion Sergio Garcia.
It was a tournament win that quite simply might not have been. Romero has been without playing rights since the 2012 BMW Masters and was playing in Munich on a sponsors invite – showing how truly competitive the level of golf is on the European Tour.
World No. 837 Romero, who carded a seven-under-par final-round of 65 that included seven birdies in his final 11 holes, set the target at 17-under-par with the final pairing of Garcia and Bland still on the course within one.
Garcia pushed a four-footer for par past the hole on the 16th, while Bland wasn’t able to save his own par attempt on 17 – meaning they both needed an eagle on the final hole to force a play-off with the 36-year-old Argentinian.
Bland gave himself a good shot, landing around 15 feet away with his second, while Garcia was left needing to chip in from the green-side rough. Both men came away with birdies, and both seemingly disappointed with their rounds of 69, having to settle for a share of second with Detry.
Detry had made the intiial moves during Sunday’s final-round, taking the early lead at 14-under thanks to four birdies in his opening six holes. He carded three more birdies, but a bogey on the 10th proved costly in the end for the Belgian, and it was Romero being congratulated in the clubhouse and lifting the trophy.
Through the translations of his caddie, Romero said: “I’m really happy, after ten years winning on the European Tour, especially here in Germany. I’m really, really happy.”
“The whole round was very good. I was focused all day. I didn’t make any bogeys, that is a rare thing for my type of game. The last few holes I noticed I made seven birdies but the whole round was excellent.
“I was nervous when I got to the 18th green but finally when I was thinking with two putts I could win the tournament, I was really nervous. But hopefully I was going to do a two-putt and now I have my trophy and enjoy this moment.”
Sergio Garcia had looked like the man to beat. He had come in to Sunday in a share of the lead with Richard Bland, but the stats were neatly stacked in the Spaniard’s favour. Garcia has already lifted two trophies this season, and of the last seven tournaments where he had held the lead at the 54 hole stage, he had gone on to win five.
And while Sergio stood firm at the top of the leadboard for much of the final round – that is until Romero’s charge during the final holes – he would be left to rue a series of missed chances with the flat stick. He gave away short putts at both the 1st and 16th holes, which would end up costly to his title challenge.
“It was a good week. Obviously fell just short. I felt like I played well enough to win for sure. Obviously a couple of missed putts here and there today and some really good putts that didn’t want to go in. So it was difficult to get anything going,” Garcia said.
“You have to give credit to Andres. With no status, he’s neither here on the European Tour or the PGA Tour, to go out and shoot 65 today, I’m happy for him and we’ll just keep trying. Any time you have a chance of winning, there’s a lot of good things. I think that there were a lot of good ones there. Just got to keep working hard and keep putting myself in these kind of situations.”
Playing partner Bland echoed Sergio’s sentiments. Bland looked to be struggling with a slight back issue, but it didn’t stop him from making four birdies in six holes from the 9th-14th. His costly dropped shots came at the 6th and 17th, and although he admitted his disappointment, he comes away encouraged from his performance this week.
“I’m pretty gutted but I gave it a good run. I just got caught in between clubs on 17 and it was the only shot I didn’t commit to all day. And even the poor shots that I hit today, I was committed to them and that was the only one I just didn’t commit to. So, proud of the two shots I hit on the last and just didn’t quite hole the putts.”
” But I’ll come back next week and try it again. The form that I’ve been showing the last three, four months, if someone offered me second place or a putt to make a play-off on 18, I’d probably snap their hand off. It’s a big step forward for me this week and I’ve just got to make sure that I keep making steps forward and finish the year strong.”