Morrison hits right note to belatedly lift Spanish crown

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waits to putt on the 16th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waits to putt on the 16th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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England’s James Morrison carded a flawless final round of 69 to claim his second European Tour title in the Open de Espana yesterday.

Morrison recorded three birdies and 15 pars to finish 10 under par at El Prat, four shots clear of defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, David Howell, Edouard Espana and Francesco Molinari.

The 30-year-old, who played cricket in the same England youth teams as Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan, began the day tied for the lead with Howell and moved clear with a birdie on the fifth, where he chipped in from the back of the green.

With Howell dropping a shot on the sixth after finding a bunker off the tee, Morrison briefly enjoyed a two-shot lead before Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo birdied the par-five seventh and holed from long range for another on the eighth to draw level. However, Grillo was unable to save par from a greenside bunker on the ninth and Morrison holed from 10 feet for birdie on the same hole to restore his two-shot lead.

Grillo dropped shots on the 13th and 17th and it was left to Molinari to keep up the pressure with birdies on the 12th and 13th, only for the former Ryder Cup player to bogey the 16th and 17th.

That left Morrison with the comfort of a three-shot lead playing the 18th and he finished in style by getting up and down from over the green for a closing birdie.

Morrison, whose previous win in Madeira came in 2010 – the same year he lost a play-off for the Spanish Open – said: “It feels amazing. It’s been five years and I had a lot of chances in between. Today I just drew on my experience and got over the line.

“My game plan was to stick to my process. I know it’s really a cliche but it’s true. All my coaches have been really big on sticking to my process, just dealing with what comes in front of me.

“Winning the Open de Espana means a lot to me.”

Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick placed 22nd after weekend rounds of 73, 71 while Harrogate’s John Parry fell away with rounds of 74, 78, to finish one shot better than Hull’s Richard Finch after successive 75s.

Rory McIlroy shot a stunning 11-under-par round of 61 on Saturday which helped him storm to victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina.

The world No 1 started the weekend three shots off top spot but he produced a record-breaking display in his third round to overhaul all his rivals.

And last night, the Northern Irishman completed his second win in America in three weeks as he held off the challenge of American duo Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson.