DOHA, Qatar -- Chris Wood eagled the 18th hole to win the Qatar Masters for his first European Tour victory on Saturday, overtaking Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee who finished a shot back.
The 142nd-ranked Englishman shot 200 yards to the green with a six-iron and watched the ball roll to within 12 feet. Wood calmly sank the putt to finish the final round at 3-under 69 and an overall 18-under 270, raising his arms in celebration. Garcia and Coetzee had looked set for at least a two-man playoff after both birdied the last hole.
"Winning on the European Tour is not easy," said Wood, who earned a victory in his 115th tour event. "It was a nice way to finish. It feels good to pick up the trophy. I've been waiting patiently for my turn and fortunately it came today,"
Wood came into the final day with a comfortable three-shot lead over former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell, Simon Khan and Alexander Noren after the third round of the Qatar Masters.
But Wood almost threw the victory away early, after he missed a four-foot, birdie putt on No. 2 and then double-bogeyed the par-3 third. He hit his tee shot into a sandy, waste area and then a chip failed to clear a wall. He rebounded with a birdie on No. 5 but then bogeyed the next hole to open the door for Coetzee and later Garcia.
"On the third, I tried to get it up and over the wall but it ricocheted back and it turned out to be a good five," Wood said. "That actually settled me down a bit surprisingly."
The 48th-ranked Coetzee, also looking for his first European Tour win, had three birdies on the final four holes on the front nine and then eagled the 10th to take a two-shot lead. His approach shot on the 10th bounced on the fringe and rolled to a few feet, setting up the easy eagle putt.
"It's always good if you can hold the lead on the final day because it's very difficult," Coetzee said. "I thought to myself, all I have to do is get past 15 and make him shoot a number, and luckily for him he did."
Garcia got into the hunt with his much improved short game, carding six birdies on his final 11 holes. His tee shot on the par-3 17th rolled to 3-feet and his birdie putt left him one shot behind. On the 18th, the Spaniard hit a long wedge shot for another birdie chance which he converted to tie Coetzee for the lead.
"I gave it my best effort," said Garcia, who could have moved into the top 10 with a win. "Obviously the last 10 or 11 holes were good. The first six holes, I didn't feel great with my swing and you could see it."
Wood recovered with some clutch putting down the stretch, sinking long birdie putts on Nos. 8, 9 and 14. He saved par on the 15th after his approach shot went into the rough and then just missed a 20-footer for birdie on the 16th. He missed another good birdie chance on No. 17, leaving him a shot behind with one hole to play.
The win moves the 25-year-old Wood into the top 60 and comes on the back of a victory on the Asian Tour last year in Thailand.
"I got to about 65th or something a couple of years ago, but since then I've had all the problems with my back and I've struggled a little bit," Wood said. "But I always knew that I would be getting back just in my own time and I'm absolutely desperate for it. It definitely opens the door to a few more things and now I can set a couple of different targets for the next few months."
Steve Webster (68) and Noren (71) finished four shots back in a tie for fourth, with Webster ending his chances with a double-bogey on 15. Three others including Branden Grace (71) finished a further shot back in a tie for sixth. Grace, a rising South African star who won four tournaments last year, gave himself a chance with an eagle on the 10th but had two bogeys to fall back before he birdied the 18th.