Today's action was dominated not by the players, but by the local Alpine "Foehn" [hairdryer] wind. The Foehn did its usual job of bringing fine weather with it (albeit with a slight chill) and making the freshly snow-capped mountains stand out against a clear sky with patchy clouds. Despite the uncertain weather forecasts for the four rounds of the tournament, a total of 43,400 people turned up in Crans to watch the action over the four days.
After some rain overnight, the damp course and the strong Foehn wind placed additional pressure on the players for the last round of the tournament, as the gusty conditions naturally took some of the control off the balls. These conditions led to a disproportionate number of double bogeys amongst the first matches of the morning, with even the leaders in the last match to depart conceding three bogeys between them on the first four holes. OMEGA ambassador Ernie Els successfully bucked this trend, with an impressive four birdies on his front nine holes. Having improved his score to six under par at the 18th, he missed the green and fell back into the water to finished with a double bogey, giving him an aggregate score of 280 (four under par) over the 72 holes and placing him joint 16th.
The unfavourable conditions did little to dent the excellent form of Ricardo Gonzalez, who managed to gain two strokes on the front nine holes of his fourth round before going on to extend his lead by one stroke with four birdies. From then on it was just a matter of keeping cool over the back nine to finish the four rounds with an aggregate score of 268, not enough to beat the outstanding 10 point lead of last year's winner and compatriot Eduardo Romero with 261, but a comfortable margin to secure victory and become the fourth Argentinean to win the tournament. Romero was among the first to congratulate Gonzales, shortly after he was showered with champagne by his entourage.
In addition to the 250,000 Euros prize money, Gonzales was also presented with a classic OMEGA De Ville Prestige watch in gold with a leather strap. An OMEGA De Ville Co-Axial watch in gold with a leather strap was presented to Steven O'Hara of Scotland who achieved the lowest scoring round of 64 on his second round and went on to finish joint 16th.
Denmark's Soren Hansen overtook yesterday's chasers with a respectable round in which he never dropped under par, finishing 13 under to take second place. Third place was taken by the charismatic "walrus" Craig Stadler of the USA.
The final top ten standings and scores are as follows:
This concludes our reporting directly from the Press Centre of the first-ever OMEGA European Masters tournament. We hope you enjoyed our coverage and look forward to keeping you up-to-date with next year's tournament.
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