DOHA, Qatar -- Sergio Garcia birdied the third extra hole to beat Mikko Ilonen in a playoff Saturday and win the Qatar Masters for his second victory in three events.
Garcia entered the round three shots behind overnight leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello but birdied six of his last 12 for a 7-under 65, forcing Ilonen to make an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to force the playoff with a 66. They both finished at 16-under 272.
Garcia missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the last that would have given him the win in regulation, then couldn't make an eagle putt for the victory on the first playoff hole.
The Spaniard and Ilonen both had birdies on the second extra hole before Garcia sealed the victory with a tap-in birdie at the third to Ilonen's par.
"I started the day thinking if I can shoot a 6 or 7 under, I can have a chance," Garcia said. "I'm very happy to be able to win it."
Cabrera-Bello only managed a 69 and fell to a tie for third with Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark (68).
Garcia's victory helped make up for last year's disappointment in Doha, when he finished runner-up after England's Chris Wood eagled the last hole to claim his first European Tour win. It also came on the heels of his victory at the Thailand Golf Championship in December, when he had his girlfriend, Katharina Boehm, caddie for him. Boehm was among the first to congratulate him after he sealed Saturday's win.
"I am very fortunate with Kathy and with my family and all those around me, so it's great to be playing well and to be in this winning situation, with the goal now to keep improving. I still feel like I can do better, and that is the goal," Garcia said.
Ilonen was seeking just his third tour victory after ending a six-year winless streak last June at the Nordea Masters.
"I came up two shots short of my target in regulation, thinking a 64 would win outright, but a 66 was good enough for the playoff," the Finn said. "But Sergio was a bit better than me."
Choi birdies to Bahamas lead
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas -- Na Yeon Choi shot a 7-under 66 Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the season-opening Bahamas LPGA Classic, chipping to a foot to set up a birdie on the par-5 18th hole.
The seventh-ranked Choi, a seven-time winner on the LPGA Tour, birdied three of the last four holes in her bogey-free round to reach 15 under on Atlantis Resort's Ocean Club course.
"I think the last three rounds I had a really good swing," Choi said.
Lizette Salas was a stroke back. She also had a bogey-free 66.Jessica Korda and Paula Creamer each eagled the 18th to reach 12 under. Alena Sharp of Hamilton carded a 3-under 70, and is 10 shots back at 5-under 214. A 76 left Toronto's Rebecca Lee-Bentham at 1-over 220.
-- from the news services