Spain, captained by the remarkable teenager, Sergio Garcia, carried off the Alfred Dunhill Cup at the Old Course, St.Andrews, with a superb victory over battling Australia in the final.
The Spanish, ever-presents in the 15-year history of the tournament, had only made the final once before – twelve months ago when they went down 3-0 to South Africa.
This time, Garcia and the two survivors from last year, José Maria Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jiménez, went one better and at the same time made amends for the loss to the South Africans, who put up a stout attempt to claim three successive wins.
Spain beat South Africa 2-1 in the semi-final of the windswept Old Course, with Garcia the solitary loser 72-70 to Ernie Els, who was powerless on this occasion to halt the Spanish Armada.
Australia, winners of the first two Alfred Dunhill Cups in 1985 and 1986, squeezed through to the final after the resolute Stephen Leaney beat Jarmo Sandelin at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off.
The final, like the preceding three days, lived up to expectations with 19 year old Garcia - handed the captain’s duties for the week despite his tender years – taking on Craig Parry.
Exactly one week earlier, Garcia had been savouring his second individual title on the European Tour, twice holing huge putts on the 18th green to win a play-off for the Linde German Masters.
This time around, the youngster came to the last needing a 15 footer to take Parry down the 19th. He did so with great aplomb and although he three putted the first extra hole, Garcia’s five rounds at his first sight of the Old Course were 67, 67, 67, 72 and 69.
Behind him, the more experienced Olazábal and Jiménez were securing the title and the cheque for 140,000 euro (£100,000) each. The Masters champion went round in level par to beat Leaney by six strokes after the Australian had suffered a four-putt on the seventh green.
Jiménez moved into an early lead against Peter O’Malley and seldom looked like relinquishing it. Although the Australian, who plays on the European Tour, birdied the 14th and 15th to show signs of a fightback, the Spaniard countered with a birdie of his own at the 15th to stay ahead.
He finished with a 73 to O’Malley’s 75 and the other two Spaniards rushed onto the hallowed turf of the 18th to hug the 35 year old who capped a remarkable year in which he has won twice and made his Ryder Cup debut.
Garcia, whose imaginative shot-making had astounded the spectators all week, admitted with a smile: “It’s not been a bad year! No, seriously, it has been a great year – two victories, the Ryder Cup and now the Alfred Dunhill Cup.
“I probably couldn’t ask for more. Now I just look forward to keeping on winning. We were pretty lucky to have perfect weather for the first three days and I just hope for more of the same when we come back for the Open in 2000.”
Olazábal paid tribute to his young skipper by saying: “When he is around, you don’t have to worry about anything! This is very satisfying because last year we got to the final only to lose to South Africa. Today we managed to beat them and win the final. It’s a nice feeling.”
Jiménez added: “I am very happy and proud to bring this trophy to Spain for the first time. Now it will be nice to have a short rest after four intensive weeks of golf, including the Ryder Cup.”