Spain’s Ignacio Garrido captured the 2003 Volvo PGA Championship after defeating Trevor Immelman at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off in a dramatic finale to The European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth Club.
Both players finished the 72 holes over the taxing West Course tied on 18 under par 270, Garrido posting a seven under par 65 to Immelman’s 68, to take the Volvo PGA Championship into extra holes for the first time since 1991. When they returned to the 18th Immelman appeared to hold the upper hand when he found the putting surface in two while Garrido crashed into trees and saw his ball come to rest just off the green.
But the Spaniard played a sublime chip to two feet and Immelman, who moments earlier lipped out from 80 feet to win the title in regulation play, three putted from a similar distance. Garrido duly converted his birdie putt to win the €583,330 (£414,555) first prize and a five year exemption to The European Tour. It was Garrido’s second victory on The European Tour International Schedule coming six years after he won the Volvo sponsored German Open.
“Volvo is my brand,” said Garrido. “Playing in The Ryder Cup and my previous victory were the highlights of my career but I think this is better than those. Winning this tournament is far more than I thought I could achieve.”
“Apart from the Major Championships there are one or two events that we all consider above the rest and this is one of them. I’ve got a lot of memories of the West Course, including caddieing for my father. In 1985 we finished 12th here and 18 years to become the Volvo PGA Champion makes me very, very proud.”
Garrido started the final day three strokes behind Immelman but set about making up the deficit with birdies on the second and fourth holes. Another birdie at the eighth, where he holed from 30 feet, took him out in 32 but it was as he turned for home that Garrido made his move.
Three birdies in succession from the tenth took Garrido clear of the field before he added his seventh birdie of the round on the 16th. Pars on the two par fives to finish set the clubhouse target of 18 under par.
Immelman was left needing a strong finish and he rose to the occasion magnificently, picking up three birdies in the last four holes for a closing 68 to tie Garrido and earn a place in his third play-off of the season. On his previous two occasions in January he won the first when he triumphed in the South African Airways Open but lost out the following week to Mark Foster in the dunhill championship. Unfortunately he was denied in a play-off for a second time.
Nevertheless the €388,880 (£276,365) cheque for second place lifted him to fourth place in the Volvo Order of Merit, one place above Garrido.
“I made a decision not to look at any leaderboards but knew I was a couple behind coming down the stretch,” said Immelman. “But I thought with three par fives coming home, if I holed a few putts I could be in with a chance. I made a great birdie on the 15th, holed a good six foot putt on the 17th and then hit a two iron to the front of the green on the last. I was about 80 feet away and hit an unbelievable putt. I thought it was going to drop in but it just caught the edge. What can you do?
“In the play-off I had a similar 80 foot putt and just left it four feet short. The putt just caught the edge of the hole.
“It was a little disappointing to shoot the 64 yesterday and finish the way I finished today but all credit to Ignacio who played superbly to shoot 65 which is what he needed to do. For me it was great to be in the hunt again.”
Sweden’s Mathias Grönberg, winner of the 60th Italian Open Telecom Italia earlier this month, continued his strong run of form when he claimed third place on 15 under par 273 after a closing 67 while World Number Two Ernie Els finished a further shot back in fourth place after a final round of 69 which moved him back to the top of the Volvo Order of Merit with €1,144,510 (£813,370).