Robert Karlsson maintained his trend of winning every odd year by capturing the Via Digital Open de España by two strokes from Jean-Francois Remesy of France at El Saler. The Swede, a winner on The European Tour in 1995, 1997 and 1999, claimed his first title of 2001, and his fourth in total, with an 11 under par total of 277.
Karlsson mastered the coastal winds which swirled over the magnificent El Saler course by keeping his errors to a minimum. With only five bogeys in 72 holes, the 32 year old secured a two stroke victory over Remesy, who finished with a swashbuckling 66 to take second place on 279.
Miguel Angel Jiménez, playing in Europe for the first time this year after campaigning in the United States, finished with a pair of 70s over the weekend to share third place with Søren Hansen of Denmark, whose birdie at the last sealed his highest finish on The European Tour since gaining Membership in 1999. Both players completed the tournament on 280, eight under par.
Karlsson’s maiden victory came in the same Spanish city six years ago when he won the Turespaña Open Mediterrania, The Land of Valencia at Escorpion. A return to familiar scenery worked the oracle as the 6ft 5in Swede moved into a share of the 54-hole lead with Darren Clarke then proceeded to get the job done on the final day.
He said: “It feels fantastic to get the pay back from all the hard work I've put in. I managed to keep out of the ice plants and bushes this week, which was important. I am very happy to win again.”
Karlsson made a swift start to the final round, picking up a shot immediately, and he admitted his biggest break came at the sixth, where he found a good lie off the fairway and eventually holed a 12 foot putt for a par four.
Remesy, winner of the Estoril Open in 1999, closed as he began – with a six under par 66. The Frenchman birdied five of the first eight holes and added two more at the 15th and 18th and was left to rue two double bogeys on days two and three which damaged his victory hopes.
Jiménez and Hansen both birdied the final hole to share third place, one ahead of Gustavo Rojas of Argentina, England’s Peter Mitchell and Swede Joakim Haeggman.
Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn had led the way on Thursday with an eight under par 64 while the halfway leadership was claimed by Clarke and Andrew Raitt of England on 135, nine under par.
After three rounds, Clarke was still on nine under par, but now sharing top spot along with Karlsson, who fired a round of 71 in testing conditions alongside the rugged Mediterranean coastline.
The final day proved to be a disappointment to the Ulsterman, who was still in contention at eight under par when he found trouble in a bush and ran up a five over par ten at the 15th hole to drop back from third to a share of 32nd.