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Flying Fernandez-Castano scoops victory

ESPN staff
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Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano claimed his sixth career European Tour victory after a flawless final round at the Italian Open, defeating South African Garth Mulroy following an exciting head-to-head battle on Sunday.

Fernandez-Castano, entering the final round just a shot adrift of overnight leader Mulroy in a tournament he won back in 2007, was in blistering form throughout the day - firing a bogey-free round of 64 to post an unbeatable total of 24-under par for the tournament.

Mulroy, looking to ensure his progression in the ongoing Race to Dubai, put up a valiant effort - but ultimately the two bogeys in his round proved the difference, as a respectable 67 could only elevate him to 22-under for the 72-hole event.

"It felt like match play out there and I'm delighted to have come out on top," Fernandez-Castano said. "It feels very special to win this tournament again."

It was an enjoyable battle at Royal Park I Roveri, especially after Fernandez-Castano wiped out Mulroy's slender overnight advantage with a birdie at the very first hole of the day. The South African edged ahead thanks to consecutive birdies at the fourth and fifth - but a bogey at the sixth, coupled with a birdie from Castano at the par-four ninth, ensured the duo entered the back nine with nothing to chose between then.

Both players birdied the testing 10th, before Castano moved ahead for the first time after Mulroy failed to pick up a shot at the par-five 11th. Both players birdied both the 13th and 14th to set up a tantalising finale, having effectively left the rest of the field fighting for third place.

The 15th saw Mulroy regain parity, after a fine approach at the 217-yard 15th was rewarded with a birdie. The turning point in the tournament, however, came two holes later - as Mulroy found trouble and dropped a shot to give his opponent the advantage going down the last.

Fernandez-Castano had birdied the par-five 18th every time prior to Sunday and, with victory assured with another red number, safely made his four to secure the win - with Mulroy eventually finishing two shots adrift after only managing to come away with a par.

"I knew it would have to be a low round to win today and so it proved," the winner added. "The putts were going in today."

Frenchman Gregory Bourdy closed with a round of 65 to reach 20-under and share third with Matteo Manassero, who ensured there was domestic interest in the event up until the closing holes.

Elsewhere, Ryder Cup duo Nicolas Colsaerts and Martin Kaymer continued their somewhat symbiotic progress this week, both shooting final rounds of 67 to finish locked together at 18-under. That was good enough for a top-five finish alongside another Spaniard, Pablo Larrazabal and Englishman Gary Boyd - whose blistering 63 (aided by an albatross at the eighth) may yet ensure he keeps his tour card for the 2013 season.

"It was a great way to finish," said the Englishman. "I should've really birdied the last for ten under - that has a nice ring to it and I don't think I've shot 62 before. But I've made a decent move up the leaderboard and it's turned a poor week into an okay one."

Rafael Cabrera-Bello finished on his own in ninth at 17-under after a round of 70, while Jaco van Zyl, Scotland's Marc Warren and Anders Hansen completed the top ten a further shot back.

The other impending Ryder Cup player on show at the Turin event, Francesco Molinari, bounced back from Saturday's damaging 76 with a 65 that elevated him to 10-under and helped quell concerns about his form ahead of the forthcoming Medinah contest.

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