Felipe Aguilar is back in winning form…
The 39-year-old Chilean professional golfer surged into the lead at The Championship at Laguna National with an impressive back-nine 28 — capped by a birdie on the par-3 17th and an eagle on the par-4 18th — and then had to sit it out to see if anyone else could catch him.
Co-overnight leader Anders Hansen was the last golfer to have a chance, but he failed to birdie his final two holes to force a playoff, giving Aguilar his first European Tour title in six years.
Aguilar shot a final round 10-under 62 to finish at 22-under 266, one stroke ahead of Hansen and American David Lipsky in joint-second.
“Yesterday I thought I had no chance,” Aguilar said. “Today I said to my caddie on the 17th after I made a birdie, ‘If we can make a birdie on 18 we can put some pressure on the leader,’ and he said ‘What about making a two?’ I said to him the way I had been hitting the ball I could well do two and I did. It’s very, very special.”
Hansen, who recently returned to the tour after a six-month layoff due to wrist surgery, had led by three shots after a birdie on the 12th hole but could not match Aguilar’s impressive finish. He bogeyed the 16th and then shot even par on the final two.
“What can you say? I heard (Aguilar) finished two, two. It’s just one of those days,” Hansen said. “It’s just really, really disappointing.”
Aguilar started the day four shots back in equal-seventh, but started to climb into contention with four straight birdies after the turn on holes 10-13. After birdieing the par-5 15th, he then sank a 10-footer for another birdie on the 17th and holed his approach shot for eagle on the 18th.
“I got a bit lucky,” he said. “I hit one of my best shots on 17 and then again on 18.”
Aguilar, who’s been dealing with a sore wrist he injured while mountain biking, won for just the second time on the European Tour, his previous title coming in Indonesia in 2008.
“It’s been a bit of a drought for six years. I’ve lost a couple of times in play-offs and had a couple of top-threes and top-fives, but never was able to get the round going on the last day, so it is nice to finally do it,” he said.