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Sunday, October 10, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT

Spanish warhorse seals historic win

Garcia, now his country's most popular sportsman, congratulates Jimenez

Spain 2-1 Australia

Miguel Angel Jimenez once again displayed the steel nerves of street-fighting veteran as he clinched his country's first Alfred Dunhill Cup victory.

Jimenez, whose unflappable temperament was a revelation in the heat of Europe's Ryder Cup battle in Boston, fired a steady final-round 73 to give Spain a 2-1 win over Australia at St Andrews.

All week Jimenez acted as the wise old hand to the youthful exuberance of team-mates Jose Maria Olazabal and teenage whizzkid Sergio Garcia.

Garcia was exceptional and although he lost his final match, it was his overall performance which was the difference between his country's humbling 3-0 defeat to South Africa in last year's final and this year's thrilling victory over Australia.

Olazabal and Jimenez both played in Spain's 1998 side but this year Garcia was chosen to replace Santiago Luna.

[ image: Parry: Had he avoided the bunker on the 17th he might have beaten Jimenez]
Parry: Had he avoided the bunker on the 17th he might have beaten Jimenez
He shot three rounds of 67 to steer Spain through the early rounds and was 18-under for the competition's five rounds.

He holed an 18-foot putt at the last for a three-under 69 to force a play-off with Craig Parry.

But the Australian, who mastered the humps and hollows of the Old Course with delightful touch-golf, clinched an extremely tight match at the first play-off hole.

Parry sunk a six-foot putt to pull Australia level, Olazabal having won Spain's first point with a comprehensive six-shot victory over Stephen Leaney.

That victory switched the spotlight back onto the final match out on the course, Jimenez against Peter O'Malley.

O'Malley had a poor start to his final round and never recovered from two early dropped shots.

Jimenez ground out par after par to cling onto the lead but it looked distinctly shaky when, on the 17th fairway, news of Garcia's defeat filtered back.

Jimenez promptly fired his second shot wide and short of the green leaving a dastardly chip over a pot bunker and a struggle to make bogey.

But O'Malley then fired his approach into the bunker - and with it his best chance of pulling level with Jimenez.

The Spaniard scrambled a messy five but O' Malley missed a 12-foot putt for par which would have cut the lead to one and piled the pressure on Jimenez up the final hole.

Instead Jimenez knew a par would probably be enough to secure Spain's first Dunhill Cup victory.

He put his second shot to the heart of the green and when O'Malley saw a chip he needed to hole roll agonisingly back down the slope towards him, Jimenez was presented with two putts to win.

His first rolled inches past but O'Malley sportingly putted out first to allow Jimenez the chance to hole out last and receive the applause of the St Andrews crowd.

It was a week in which the etiquette and honour which had deserted the game during the Ryder Cup returned in abundance.

Fitting it was at the home of golf, which for one day at least, lies under the shadow of a Spanish flag.

Results: Par 72
Parry 69 bt Garcia 69 at 19th, Leaney 78 lost to Olazabal 72, O'Malley 75 lost to Jimenez 73

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