Andrew Johnston made the best of tough conditions in the Real Club Valderrama Open de Espana event to secure a maiden European Tour with a one-over-par score. The 27-year-old posted a final round of 70 on Sunday as he edged out Netherland’s Joost Luiten by just one shot.
Johnston’s victory with an over-par total is the first for twenty years, when Ian Woosnam shot the same score to triumph in the Scottish Open at the notoriously difficult Carnoustie course in 1996. Strong winds and fast greens made it equally testing for players this week in Andalucia, though the conditions during the fourth round were more favourable.
Johnston didn’t look like he would be troubling the leaders after an early bogey, but he found some momentum on the seventh with a birdie following a sensational approach shot. He then added another at the ninth to move into a share for the lead, but a dropped shot on the 14th threatened to derail his challenge.
There were a number of players jostling for position at the top of the leaderboard at this point including Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia, who finished 34th at the US Masters last week. Home favourite Garcia birdied both the 16th and 17th to move to two-over-par but a bogey on the last dented his hopes, though he took the clubhouse lead.
Johnston then holed a superb 20-foot putt on the 16th as he moved ahead again and none of the remaining challengers on the course including Luiten were able to match or overhaul him during the final few holes.
“I’m pretty speechless, so happy with the way I’ve played,” he said afterwards. “I drove the ball well all week, chipped and putted well all week, I struggled a bit with my irons the first three days but I just kept going and kept digging in and then on the fourth I found something.”