Ross McGowan Completes Italian Job for First Win in 11 Years
Ross McGowan birdied two of the final three holes to win the Italian Open - 11 years after his last victory on the European Tour. The Englishman entered the final day at Chervò Golf Club alongside countryman Laurie Canter three shots clear of the field but they were caught on a dramatic afternoon in Brescia.
At one point late in the day there were eight players within one shot of the lead before McGowan holed a spectacular bunker shot at the 16th to knock Canter out of the lead.
Canter hit back with a birdie from six feet on the par three 17th but McGowan put his third into the par five last to 20 feet and holed the putt for a 71, a 20 under par total and a one shot victory over Canter and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.
German Sebastian Heisele finished at 18 under, a shot clear of countryman and two time major champion Martin Kaymer, Spaniard Adri Arnaus, South African Dean Burmester, Northern Ireland's Jonathan Caldwell and Norwegian Kristoffer Reitan.
McGowan came within a whisker of making the European Ryder Cup team in 2010 after a 2009 season that saw him claim that first win at the Madrid Masters and finish 12th on the Race to Dubai. But he began the week ranked 580th in the world.
The 38-year-old has not finished in the top 150 on the Race to Dubai since 2010, graduating from the Qualifying School in 2015 and 2017 but, after claiming a third European Challenge Tour win last season, he is now back to his best and back on the European Tour.
"I can't believe it," he said. "I hit the ball terrible today but luckily the putter kept me in it again. The tee shot on 16 was a shocker, the second shot wasn't much better and then I holed the bunker shot so I think that was the one that gave me a bit of belief. Then to roll that putt in there [on the 18th] was magical.
"I didn’t really foresee this, my form hasn’t been great. But I felt like I was playing better, definitely around the greens. I think I’m going to have to go now and have a nice big glass of red wine and think about what’s next."
McGowan found sand at the third and then missed a short putt to hand Canter the solo lead, with both men laying up and holing from around ten feet to birdie the par five fourth. McGowan found water off the tee at the par three fifth for a double bogey but put his second on the par five sixth to 14 feet and rolled in an eagle to get the shots straight back.
Canter had three putted the fifth from 50 feet but a two putt birdie on the next edged him back in front before he failed to get up and down on the seventh and both players were back where they started at 19 under, although the lead was now just two.
That soon became one when McGowan got in trouble down the right and Canter three putted on the eighth, and they soon had some company.
Burmester had failed to get up and down from just off the back of the second but the big hitter made the most of the fourth and sixth and then hit a wonderful second from the rough to six feet at the tenth to move to 18 under.
Heisele had also made a slow start with a bogey at the first after a poor tee shot but he put his tee shot to ten feet at the second, took advantage of the par fives on the front nine and then holed from the fringe at the par five 11th to make it a four way tie.
Canter's 37 was the first time he had played the front nine over par all week but he recovered on the tenth with a beautiful tee shot and an approach to six feet to break out of the pack, before a two putt birdie on the next had him two ahead.
McGowan holed from 25 feet at the 13th to trim the lead to one but with both of the final group bogeying the next, Heisele and Burmester were still right in the mix despite dropping shots on the 13th and 14th respectively.
Colsaerts was also two off the lead as he recovered from a bogey after a poor tee shot at the first with a tap-in at the third, a two putt birdie at the gettable sixth, and a putt from the fringe at the 12th.
A poor chip at the 15th from Canter meant we were tied again and when Colsaerts put his second to four feet at the 16th, there were three at the top.
McGowan went a long way left off the 16th tee and after going from one bunker to another, he holed that shot from the sand to set up the big finish, with Colsaerts and Heisele both falling short despite picking up shots on the last.
Canter had led since Thursday morning after a spectacular 60 but finished the week with a 72.
Patrick Cantlay produced a final round of 65 to overhaul Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm and win the Zozo Championship with a 72-hole total of 265, 23 under par. He began the final day three behind Thomas and two adrift of Rahm but shot nine birdies to get the job done at Sherwood Country Club.Rahm had a 19-foot birdie chance on the 72nd hole to force a playoff, but it fell to the right side of the hole and Cantlay was the champion.
“I usually like to see the golf course actually two times all the way through. This week I only saw the front nine twice and I saw the back nine once,” Cantlay said. “I like the golf course, it was good. It was in really good shape. I just had never gotten up here. I grew up about an hour and a half away and there's a lot of golf between here and there.
“It's really great to win at home. I look forward to hopefully winning at Riviera, and anytime you win close to home it just feels a little sweeter. I felt comfortable all week. I like this cloudy California weather, I'm used to it, it's what I grew up with. It was just a nice week.”
With the victory, Cantlay jumped to second in the FedExCup standings. He finished 34th in the standings last season, which meant he missed out on the Tour Championship.
After his second win at the 2019 Memorial Tournament, Cantlay had a few close calls without closing the deal. He was runner-up twice, once in a playoff, and had a further fourth-place finish.
And through three rounds of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open a few weeks ago, he was tied for the lead and expected to win but faded into a tie for eighth.
“I played really well. I feel like I have been playing well for a while and this week it just kind of all came together every day. Obviously, I started today a few back, but I knew I had to go out and make a bunch of birdies,” he said. “It's just validation of all the hard work. I put in a lot of work and try to do the right things all the time, so when it all does come together, it's really rewarding because it's all that hard work paying off.”
His putting in the final round was superb. In Saturday’s third round, he made just 53-feet worth of putts but on Sunday he required just 24 putts.
“I have been working on it maybe a little more than usual, especially last week in Vegas. I'm trying to get my hands a little more forward and the putter a little more square at address, so today it felt really good,” the 28-year-old said.
Now Cantlay has his sights set on the upcoming Masters at Augusta National. He balked at the suggestion he may have peaked two weeks too early. “I was able to win one of the tournaments Tiger won last year, so now I'm just going to go try and win the other event that Tiger won last year,” he smiled.
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