Colsaerts wins Volvo World Match Play Championship
Andalucia, Spain (Sports Network) - Nicolas Colsaerts defeated former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, 1-up on Sunday to win the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
Colsaerts, who needed two extra holes in Sunday morning's semifinals to topple 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie, earned his second European Tour title. His other victory came at the 2011 China Open.
For Colsaerts, this is the continuation of a spectacular 2012 season. This was his seventh top 10 this season, the most on the European Tour.
For McDowell, who beat Rafael Cabrera-Bello, 2-up in the morning, this was yet another tough battle with Colsaerts. Last year, Colsaerts beat McDowell, 2 & 1 in the quarterfinals.
"It means everything," he said. "Where do I start? I felt that I had a pretty good shot at it last year in the same format, and I was a little disappointed not to get to the final."
Colsaerts' appearance in the final was somewhat remarkable.
He trailed Lawrie 4-down after four holes, but Colsaerts clawed back with wins at eight, nine, 13 and 14. Lawrie won the 16th with a par, then, while on the 17th, the horn sounded at Finca Cortesin to stop play.
Lightning in the area suspended the action for one hour. When the two matches returned, Colsaerts knotted the contest on 18 with a birdie. It was off to extra holes and Colsaerts advanced with a win on the second playoff hole.
The victory set up his back-and-forth match with McDowell.
Colsaerts, one of the longest hitters on the European Tour, drew first with a long eagle putt to win the par-five third. But, in what would become a trend throughout the match, McDowell answered immediately.
The 2010 U.S. Open champion captured the fourth when Colsaerts drove into water and could do no better than double-bogey.
Colsaerts reclaimed a 1-up lead with a birdie win at the par-three sixth. McDowell squared things after Colsaerts missed a 10-foot par putt to halve the hole.
McDowell struggled on Sunday with the driver and put his tee ball into some trees at the par-five eighth. That cost him the hole, but he once again came right back to win the next and tie the tilt.
At the next par five, the 11th, McDowell landed in the trees again and fell 1- down. Colsaerts doubled his lead with a par at 13 when McDowell found some bushes with his approach.
McDowell regained some momentum with a 20-foot birdie putt to take the 14th. Colsaerts had a chance to go 2-up, but missed a seven-foot birdie putt at 15. He finally did get back to 2-up with a win at 16 when McDowell's approach missed the green, then his 18-foot try to save par stayed above ground.
Colsaerts was 2-up with two to play, but squandered his chance to close out the title early. McDowell snuck in and won the 17th to go 1-down with the par- five 18th to go.
McDowell's third at the last went over the green and his birdie effort failed to fall. Colsaerts had two putts from 12 feet for the title and lagged his birdie bid to concession range.
The two took off their hats, shook hands and Colsaerts went on to hoist the trophy.
"I played well in tough conditions," said Colsaerts. "Wind like this, you know it's going to be very difficult. Graeme McDowell, he's won the U.S. Open, so he's used to playing in tough conditions. I knew that it was going to be a tough game in conditions like these."
With the victory, Colsaerts inched close to the top 30 in the world rankings and has a maiden Ryder Cup berth in reach.
NOTES: Colsaerts is the first Belgian to win twice on the European Tour...The European Tour travels to England next week for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, where Luke Donald captured the 2011 title.
05/20 14:46:47 ET