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Quiros resurrects career with dramatic Sicilian triumph

Alvaro Quiros of Spain holds the trophy after winning The Rocco Forte Open at The Verdura Golf and Spa Resort. © Getti Images | Stuart Franklin
Alvaro Quiros of Spain holds the trophy after winning The Rocco Forte Open at The Verdura Golf and Spa Resort. © Getti Images | Stuart Franklin

Alvaro Quiros marked a dramatic return to the European Tour winners’ circle at the Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, Sicily as the Spaniard defeated South Africa’s Zander Lombard on the second play-off hole to claim a seventh title, his first in over six years.

The 34 year old, who prior to this week had only made five cuts in his last 20 stars, defied the form book at Verdura Golf Club as he came flying out of the blocks with four birdies in the first six holes – draining monster birdie putts at the fifth and sixth.

It appeared to be written in the stars for the resurgent Quiros as he opened up a seven-stroke lead at one point, but it all came undone thereafter as four bogeys and a double-bogey opened the door for potential contenders.

The promising 22 year old Lombard was in the ascendancy after opening with back to back birdies and his three under final round 68 piled the pressure on playing partner Quiros, who was forced to hole a ten-footer on the last to take it to extra holes – signing for a two over 73 and joining Lombard on a 14 under total.

The Dubai-based Cadiz native made his experience count though, and after they halved the first play-off hole in pars, a smart two-putt for par was enough to seal the victory for Quiros on the second time of asking – Lombard missing a three-footer to end his hopes of a maiden win.

A consolation for the Pretorian came in the shape of qualification for next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, while Li Haotong of China finished in outright third place after holing an albatross at the par five 12th en route to a five under final round 66 and a 13 under total.

Player Quotes:

Alvaro Quiros

“I’m very happy. Obviously it shouldn’t have been like that with a play-off, but in the end it’s a victory and that’s the most important thing. It’s been a little bit of a mess today – the game wasn’t that bad. Just the last few holes I started to struggle with the wind left to right, and Zander was playing nicely, Pep was playing nice too and they had chances obviously.

“I didn’t have an idea how many shots I was leading by, what I knew on 18 is I have to make a putt to halve with Zander.

“It’s a strange feeling because it’s a victory, it means a lot of things. But unfortunately I didn’t really like how I ended the round. It should never have gone that far. But at the same time I could be talking about finishing second so I’m happy.

“I’m positive because it means I can go back onto the European Tour and I’m positive because even after the finish that I had, I’ve been able to manage, so there are a lot of good things.

“I knew I had a five shots advantage and that’s a lot of shots but on a day like this, it’s nothing. I knew I had to play as well as the previous days and keep doing what I’m doing. The most important thing is that I’ve been able to do a good job for the whole week and I’ve been able to go low.

“I have been struggling because I was trying to improve. I changed my swing a little bit technically speaking and I lost my natural swing. At the end of the day, it’s difficult to stop and come out with a different setup.

“Obviously the lowest point was last season, losing my card for the first time in my career and I had to fight for it. The most important thing for me back then was to recover my game, because I knew that if I could do that after a year on the Challenge Tour I should be able to get my card and come back. Fortunately it happened earlier and I’m happy to say I’m hitting the ball better. I know where I am technically and that’s a big improvement.”

Zander Lombard

“I’m very happy with how I kept myself in contention and all the best for Alvaro. He’s a great champion, he’s won in the past and it’s nice to see him win again. I’m very pleased with this performance going into next week and hopefully I can keep this form up.

“It’s a good consolation prize to get into Wentworth. I suppose winning isn’t everything but I can’t complain, losing in a play-off – it’s anybody’s game with this wind. I think I hit a great putt but the wind just kept it out, so I’m pleased.

“The main thing I take from this is that I can be in contention and I can win. I just need to trust myself and believe that and hopefully I can do it a little later. My parents and my girlfriend are happy at home – they were probably stressed and nervous on the couches but thanks to all my team and this was an awesome week.”

Li Haotong

“My second shot for the albatross was a five iron, I just wanted to get it on the green and two-putt and make an easy birdie. After I hit it I saw some clapping on the green and thought it was probably pretty close or something, and when I walked there I couldn’t believe it was in.

“The first bogey was from 132, a little bit of a flier lie, a little bit unlucky so I’ll take that. I hit a lovely shot on 16 and made birdie there. I think it was a pretty decent round for me.

“It will give me some confidence as this was my first event in the last couple of weeks. I was still a little bit nervous the first couple of rounds but it gave me ore control of my game.”

Pep Angles

“It’s been a little bit up and down these last few months so I’m proud that my game is back. I’ve been doing the right things and it just needed to click.

“Getting myself in contention is a real positive, I need to start doing that more often and learn from the experience and keep going and working on it. Hopefully I will win pretty soon.

“I love being in contention, having a chance to win and being out there. The crowds were really good. It was nice, an experience to learn from and hopefully I can get myself in the same spot in the coming weeks.”

Final Scores:

Play-off: A Quiros 4,4; Z Lombard 4,5

270 A Quiros (Esp) 63 64 70 73, Z Lombard (RSA) 62 68 72 68,

271 L Haotong (Chn) 64 68 73 66,

272 P Angles (Esp) 69 66 68 69,

273 M Fraser (Aus) 66 66 74 67, J Scrivener (Aus) 68 67 71 67,

274 D Horsey (Eng) 64 66 74 70,

275 M Siem (Ger) 68 68 71 68, M Foster (Eng) 67 64 75 69, J Guerrier (Fra) 65 68 72 70,

276 R Karlsson (Swe) 70 67 73 66, M Korhonen (Fin) 67 67 73 69, J Kruger (RSA) 63 69 73 71, M Hoey (Nir) 61 68 75 72, L Slattery (Eng) 64 70 70 72, T Lewis (Eng) 67 67 72 70, S Manley (Wal) 66 68 73 69,

277 S Soderberg (Swe) 61 68 77 71, E De La Riva (Esp) 64 71 70 72, D Im (USA) 66 70 72 69, J Carlsson (Swe) 67 65 72 73, R Jacquelin (Fra) 69 62 73 73,

278 J Morrison (Eng) 71 65 71 71, R Paratore (Ita) 71 62 70 75, T Bjørn (Den) 65 69 74 70, G Hurley (Irl) 67 66 72 73,

279 B Evans (Eng) 68 67 74 70, O Fisher (Eng) 66 69 74 70, G Porteous (Eng) 68 67 70 74, A Björk (Swe) 69 66 74 70,

280 A Connelly (Can) 68 69 74 69, E Johansen (Nor) 65 67 76 72, J Suri (USA) 75 62 72 71, C Paisley (Eng) 66 71 72 71, J Lima (Por) 64 67 73 76, S Heisele (Ger) 63 69 76 72, R Wattel (Fra) 66 67 80 67,

281 A Dodt (Aus) 67 68 76 70, M Wallace (Eng) 68 69 76 68, J Winther (Den) 68 66 79 68, P Maddy (Eng) 66 67 73 75, W Ormsby (Aus) 66 66 76 73, J Dantorp (Swe) 68 69 71 73, E Pepperell (Eng) 67 67 75 72, S Jamieson (Sco) 69 67 75 70, H Porteous (RSA) 68 64 73 76, M Armitage (Eng) 65 71 72 73,

282 J Smith (Eng) 68 68 77 69, R McEvoy (Eng) 67 67 77 71, M Manassero (Ita) 67 67 73 75, F Laporta (Ita) 66 69 78 69, A Saddier (Fra) 69 68 70 75, N Kimsey (Eng) 67 69 75 71, S Webster (Eng) 70 67 75 70,

283 J Parry (Eng) 69 67 74 73, R Kakko (Fin) 68 69 75 71, P Khongwatmai (Tha) 66 70 74 73,

284 C Berardo (Fra) 66 71 73 74, J Donaldson (Wal) 69 67 75 73, N Johansson (Swe) 66 71 74 73, R Johnson (Swe) 70 65 79 70, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 67 75 74,

285 O Lengden (Swe) 68 69 74 74, N Cullen (Aus) 66 70 74 75,

286 T Detry (Bel) 71 66 75 74,

287 J Rutherford (Eng) 69 68 74 76,

288 P Peterson (USA) 66 69 78 75, O Stark (Swe) 68 67 80 73, L Cianchetti (am) (Ita) 67 70 80 71,

289 P Tangkamolprasert (Tha) 67 68 79 75,

291 L Gagli (Ita) 68 67 78 78,

292 M Weir (Can) 67 70 76 79,