The European Tour made its way back to the northeast of Spain this week, as some of golf's biggest names descended upon the PGA Catalunya Resort for the 89th edition of the Spanish Open.
Heading into the tournament, Sergio Garcia sat among the favourites to reign triumphant in his native land, but a raft of big names such as Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari and Joost Luiten staked their own claims on the title.
After four days of action, Angel Jimenez was crowned the champion.
First played in 1912, the Spanish Open is one of Europe's longest-serving competitions. Enjoy the day-by-day leaderboard updates and highlights from the event below.
|2014 Spanish Open Final Leaderboard|
|Finish||Player||Final Score||Day 4 Score||Total|
|1||Miguel Angel Jimenez||-4||73||284|
*For a look at the standings in full, go to Europeantour.com.
Day 4 Report
The 2014 Spanish Open was one of the wildest events this year, but it was tour veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez who was able to put it all together on Sunday and steal the show with a monumental victory.
Jimenez was forced to a playoff against Richard Green and Thomas Pieters, but won on the first hole. With momentum on his side and the experience to keep calm under pressure, it was clear that Jimenez was the best player during the final round.
Pieters held the lead coming into Sunday’s fourth round, but with Jimenez playing in front of his home crowd gave the golfer even more motivation to succeed. With his victory, Jimenez became the first player 50 years old or older to win on the European Tour.
As well as Pieters and the rest of the field performed, destiny looked to be on Jimenez’s side.
Day 3 Report
Belgium's Thomas Pieters kept up his excellent play on the third day of the 2014 Spanish Open, scoring 71 at the PGA Catalunya Resort to take a two-shot lead into the final round on Sunday.
Pieters fell behind local hero Miguel Angel Jimenez earlier in the day but capitalized on two bogeys from the 50-year-old, scoring birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to reclaim the lead.
Jimenez started the day with six birdies in his opening 13 holes, building on the momentum he had obtained during Friday's round. The Spaniard has never won the Open on home soil, and the two late bogeys brought his excellent run back down to a round of 69, putting him in second place on the tournament leaderboard.
Speaking to Europeantour.com, the experienced veteran expressed his disappointment in the way the day ended for him, while remaining hopeful ahead of Sunday's final round:
I'm a little disappointed with that. Ididn't hit it very well the last few holes. I played very well the first nine holes and was solid until the 14th but made a bad bogey on the 15th where I three-putted from eight metres and also bogeyed the last.
[...] It would be nice. I'd love to win the Spanish Open of course and we'll see what happens tomorrow.
Pieters struggled a bit with his placement early but rebounded nicely towards the end of his round, and the 22-year-old will defend his surprising top spot on Sunday. As shared by Belgian Golfer, his ability to drive the ball has been a major difference maker on the fast greens in Catalunya:
Richie Ramsay, Chris Wood and Richard Greene are tied for third, three shots off the pace of the Belgian. Scotland's Ramsay tied Pieters for 71 today thanks in large part to a fantastic put from about 100 feet out, converting one of his five birdies on the day.
England's Ross Fischer managed two eagles on his way to a score of 67, the best mark any golfer was able to hit on Saturday.
Sunday will see the conclusion to the 2014 Spanish Open, as Pieters will have to defend his two-shot lead over a surging Jimenez. Playing at home, the Spaniard looked more comfortable than during Friday's round, besting Pieters' mark for the first time in the tournament.
The Belgian lacks experience playing a final round in a major tournament, but few can argue with his play over the last three days. If he can continue his excellent run and keep his score under 72 for the fourth consecutive day, the win should be in the bag for Pieters.
Day 2 Report
Belgium's Thomas Pieters took the lead at the Spanish Open after Friday's proceedings, carding a second consecutive three-under 69 to take a one-shot advantage into the weekend.
England's Eddie Pepperell maintained his challenge at the top of the leaderboard after round two, he is tied for second on five under with Dutchman Joost Luiten.
Meanwhile, Francesco Molinari carded an outstanding five-under 67 to leave himself four under for the tournament and on his own in fourth place.
Here's a look at the leaderboard after Day 2 in Spain.
|2014 Spanish Open Leaderboard (After Day 2)|
|Player||Day 2 Score||Total|
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||73||-2|
*For a look at the standings in full, go to EuropeanTour.com.
Pieters started on the back-nine and had a bit of a topsy-turvy time of it on his way out as he bogeyed four of his opening eight holes while picking up two birdies on par-fives 12 and 15.
However, his closing ten holes were immaculate as he did not drop another shot and picked up five more birdies to close out his three-under round.
Pepperell had the opportunity to extend his one-shot overnight lead when he, having started on the 10th, went four-under par through his first three holes.
However, he was drawn back into the rest of the field when he double-bogeyed 14 and dropped another shot at 18.
With two birdies and two bogeys on his back nine he ended with a one-under round of 71, leaving him in a good position for the weekend.
The 23-year-old believes he is in with a very good chance thanks to two decent rounds, per the European Tour website:
The game's been pretty good for two days and five under puts me in a really nice spot for the weekend.
I expect to be caught today but I'm not too worried, if I keep doing what I'm doing I hope to have a shot at it come Sunday afternoon. It was a great start and I hit some really nice shots early.
Luiten's round of 69 included an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys as well as a warning for slow play on the par-five seventh.
Also starting on the back nine, like Pepperell he eagled the par-five 12th and went on to birdie 14 and 15 as well as two of his last three holes.
Molinari's progress was one of the most significant of the day as he shot 45 places up the leaderboard courtesy of a very consistent round which included six birdies and just one bogey on the 11th.
Spanish duo Alvaro Quiros, who also carded a 67, and Miguel Angel Jimenez are on three and two under respectively, while Sergio Garcia dropped to one under after a round of 74.
There are a huge number of players still in with a shout of glory as the tournament heads into the weekend and Pieters will need to hold his nerve is he wants to be still topping the leaderboard come Sunday night.
Day 1 Report
Reigning Spanish Open champion Raphael Jacquelin got off to a less-than-ideal start in his title defence on Thursday, shooting an opening-round one-over 73 to end Day 1 in slightly disappointing fashion, thanks to some questionable work off the tee.
However, it was a far more fruitful outing for England's Eddie Pepperell, who despite coming into the competition as the world-ranked No. 386, registered a score of four under to step into a one-shot lead.
Here's how the top of the leaderboard looks after Thursday's action:
|2014 Spanish Open Leaderboard (After Day 1)|
|Player||Day 1 Score||Total|
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||69||-3|
*For a look at the standings in full, go to EuropeanTour.com.
Pepperell's day was largely consistent. He bogeyed the opening par-four, but it was all positive from that moment. The 23-year-old didn't record another bogey for the duration of his day and totalled five birdies.
The young Englishman found himself in plenty of awkward spots throughout his round, but he scrambled superbly—maintaining a 100 percent success rate in that area of his game—to set the standard for the day. Sky Sports' Keith Jackson praised him for his performance:
Garcia's early business didn't exactly glitter, either, as the Spaniard started on the 10th hole. He notched two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine, but what stood out most was his eagle at 15.
With a quieter showing on the front nine, it was a satisfactory day's work for the Spaniard, who was in high spirits coming into the competition having already won on the European Tour in Qatar earlier this season:
Speaking to the official European Tour website after his opening round, Garcia was pleased with how Thursday unfolded:
I'm happy with my round. I didn't have the greatest night last night and only slept for about four hours with the jet lag.
I didn't feel extremely well with my swing but I managed to put it in play and give myself some good chances at birdies. The course is tough and the fairways are some of the tightest we have played all year. With the grass they have in this rough, as soon as you miss the fairway it's a guessing game.
Jimenez and Luiten didn't fail to impress in their initial Spanish endeavours—each within close distance of the leader. Jimenez is tied for second with several others after a Day 1 score of 69, while Luiten shot a two-under 70. They will be two of the numerous stars fancying their chances of contending for Sunday's title among a tightly knit pack of players.
Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen is one of those poised at three under and hit the shot of the day with his hole-in-one at the fifth, clipping in from 200-plus yards out with a 5-iron, celebrated by the European Tour's official Twitter account:
The Spanish Open is already showing itself to be a testing location for those in attendance, and attentions now turn toward Friday's schedule in the hopes that one leader can establish a more dominant grip on proceedings.