Sunday, 09 October 2011
Madrid Masters Champion Lee Slattery  (Getty Images)
Madrid Masters Champion Lee Slattery (Getty Images)
Lee Slattery survived a shaky start and a nerve-shredding final hole to capture his first European Tour title at the Bankia Madrid Masters.

Two clear at the start of the final round, the 33 year old Englishman bogeyed two of his first five holes at El Encin Golf Hotel.

That allowed Argentine veteran Cesar Monasterio and Italian Lorenzo Gagli to seize the initiative, before Slattery regained control with four birdies in five holes from the 11th – a 25 foot putt at the 14th and an approach to within a foot at the next the highlights.

Three clear with three to play, Slattery looked in complete control as he parred the 16th and 17th – but there was still plenty of drama to come.

He hit his second on the par five last into a bunker, and then pushed his approach into the water to the right of the green. 

At that stage The Challenge Tour graduate was rekindling memories of Jean Van De Velde’s infamous closing hole in The 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

But a decent chip left him with two putts from ten feet, and he holed a two footer to secure a one shot win over Gagli.

Despite his seven at the last, Slattery’s 71 gave him a 15 under par total in the Spanish capital. 

“I’ve never shaken so much in my life,” he said. “I just stood over that putt and the hole looked tiny. I was strangling that putter because that one putt is a life changing putt.

“I come from a normal working class background. My mum and dad have done everything they can for us and I got kind of emotional walking down the last - I know how much it`s going to mean for them.

“I struggled for a time and had to work in a clothes shop. To come back the year after and win The Challenge Tour was a great feeling.

“Working in that shop actually helped me, it certainly grounded me and made me realize I don’t want to do that.

“I also did some modelling for Galvin Green I actually got more exposure out of that than from any sponsor I’ve ever had, so they’ve been fantastic.”

The victory was all the sweeter for a player who lost his card by just €77 in 2007 and had to return to The Challenge Tour last year after again slipping out of the top 115 in 2009.

“It means absolutely everything to me,” he added. “I remember when I got my Tour card for the first time and my Dad said to me ‘You haven’t made it yet, you’ve got to win an event’ and he’s kind of right. 

“The belief I’ve got now after winning is tremendous and I want to win more.”

The 25 year old Gagli has been enjoying an excellent season on The European Tour, with four top-five finishes taking him to 49th on The Race to Dubai.

That good form continued with a two under par 70 which included three birdies, the best of them coming with a 25 foot putt at the fourth.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve led during the final round of a tournament. It’s the best score of my career and I’m very happy with my attitude on the course and how I controlled my emotions.” 

Former St Omer winner Monasterio and home favourite Eduardo De La Riva were tied for third on 12 under, as the top four all recorded their best European Tour results of the season.

The 47 year old Monasterio looked to be mounting a real charge as he turned in 32, but three bogeys on the back nine – including the 17th and 18th – cost him the chance of victory.

Tournament host Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño made a brilliant eagle at the 11th thanks to a marvellous second shot to five feet as he signed for a 71 and share of sixth, while World Number One and defending champion Luke Donald finished with a level par 72 to be tied for 11th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
2GAGLI, LorenzoITA18-14
T3DE LA RIVA, EduardoESP18-12
5AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-10
T6HANSON, PeterSWE18-9
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