Spence takes the Marrakech Express

A final round 64 separates Spence from the rest of the field in Morocco

European Tour
Mon, 24 Apr 2000
Spence takes the Marrakech Express

Jamie Spence took the Marrakech Express with a final round 64 to win the Moroccan Open Méditel at Golf d’Amkelkis with a 22 under par total of 266 – the lowest of the 2000 season.

Spence's win ended an eight-year wait to record his second victory on the European Tour.

The passionate Arsenal fan completed a memorable week in which his favourite club reached the final of the UEFA Cup by firing a closing 64, eight under par, to win by a margin of four strokes from Tour rookie Ian Poulter and Frenchman Seb Delagrange and Thomas Levet.

Spence claimed his breakthrough win in 1992, when he shot a final round 60 before beating Anders Forsbrand in a play-off for the Canon European Masters. That season he went on to finish a career-best tenth on the Volvo Order of Merit and played in England’s victorious Alfred Dunhill Cup team at St.Andrews.

However success has eluded him since, although he has been a consistent performer for the past eleven unbroken seasons on the European Tour. He finished runner-up in the Belgacom Open last year and contended strongly for the Dubai Desert Classic just two months ago.

It was a relieved and emotional Spence who hugged his caddie, Janet Squire, after getting up and down at the 72nd hole for the birdie four which clinched that long-awaited second Tour title.

He admitted: “It’s been a long wait, that’s for sure. It feels like I’ve won the British Open, to be honest. I’ve had my chances in the past but maybe backed off. Today my policy was to attack and go for birdies and I kept doing that right to the final hole.

“This feels even better than Arsenal reaching the final – to have a three shot lead on the last green. As I say, I had chances in the past but maybe I played a bit conservatively when I needed to play positively. I think I’ve learned that from the better players.”

Spence added: “I feel I should probably have won the Moroccan Open in 1992 but didn’t and have hardly been back since. But I heard the course and the weather were good and I had hardly played at home for five weeks so decided to come out here. Maybe it owed me one!”

Spence began the final day three behind 54-hole leader Ignacio Garrido of Spain and quickly turned that deficit into a single hole advantage thanks to a pair of birdies to open his round and another pair to close the front nine.

Three more birdies in a row from the 13th opened up a gap between Spence and the field and he drilled a four iron through the 18th and chipped back to four feet for his eighth birdie of the day and a wonderfully controlled 64.

As the man from Tunbridge Wells gathered momentum, his nearest rivals went into reverse. Garrido, who had looked solid after rounds of 68, 64 and 67, threw in two birdies and four bogeys over the first 12 holes to let his chance evaporate. He ended with a 74 and a share of sixth place.

It was a similar story for Pedro Martinez of Paraguay, whose opening scores of 64 and 66 earned him pole position through 18 and 36 holes. He began the day alongside Spence in 202, 14 under par, but was unable to make any progress and he joined Garrido on 273 after a round of 72.

Australian amateur Adam Scott, who had opened with two 66s to attract considerable media attention – and his peers on the golf course – also could not make an impression as Spence galloped clear of the field and it was still a commendable effort on his part to finish tied sixth.

It was left to Poulter and the pair of Frenchman to try to deny the Englishman. Poulter, who has made a highly impressive start to his career after gaining his card at the Qualifying School finals, went out in 38 but stormed home in 31 helped by a 15 footer for a two at the 17th and a superb 20 footer for an eagle at the last to tie for second.

Delagrange, a 26 year old Challenge Tour regular, moved into contention with a third round 65 and did not back off. The Parisien went to the turn in 34, two under par, to stay close to Spence but a bogey at the 13th dropped him four shots off the pace.

Levet, tied ninth on 12 under par after three rounds, picked up the gauntlet with three birdies on the front nine and three more on the homeward stretch to shoot a 66 and finish level with Delagrange, who closed with a 70.

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