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Pieters wins fifth title at Portugal Masters, Harrington finishes tied for 12th

Meanwhile, Seamus Power also recorded a top-12 finish at the Mayakoba Championship.

Thomas Pieters (file pic).
Thomas Pieters (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated at 22.47

BIG-HITTING Belgian Thomas Pieters captured his fifth European Tour title on Sunday when his final round 68 gave him a two-shot victory at the Portugal Masters.

Pieters, 29, started the day level with Frenchman Matthieu Pavon who led for the first 11 holes on Sunday but found water three times on the way home in a score of 70.

The Belgian pounced to finish at 19 under par, two shots clear of Pavon and Danish pair Lucas Bjerregaard and Nicolai Hojgaard, who finished with rounds of 66 and 64 respectively.

Hojgaard shared the lead in the closing stages as he carded the lowest round of the day but bogeyed the last, while 2017 champion Bjerregaard birdied the 18th to ensure he moved into the top 100 on the Race to Dubai rankings.

Victory for Pieters also ensured he will play the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai for a seventh consecutive season.

“It feels amazing,” he said after a first title since the 2019 Czech Open.

“Two years is a long time. I’ve had a child in the meantime, who talks and runs around. It does feel like a long time.

“I was going into this week and next week with my back to the wall. I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I’ve never missed the end of the Race to Dubai and really didn’t want to miss it.”

Padraig Harrington, meanwhile, finished tied for 12th on -10, while Jonathan Caldwell was three shots further back, leaving him tied for 26th.

Elsewhere, at the Mayakoba Championship, Ireland’s Seamus Power clocked another top-12 finish; ending an industrious weekend in 11th on 14 under par, nine strokes behind winner Viktor Hovland.

The Waterford man was the sole Irish representative left in the field down the home straight after Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell missed the cut, and he carded three birdies in a three-under 68 on the closing day in Mexico.

“Overall, it was a good week,” he said afterwards, his focus switching to this week’s Houston Open where he will again be joined by Lowry and McDowell.

“I didn’t get the low round that you needed to keep up with some of the low scores, but it’s another good solid week back-to-back, another top 15.”

Norway’s Hovland defended his title for his second triumph of the year and third career US PGA Tour victory. The 24-year-old from Oslo fired a final-round four-under par 67 at El Camaleon Golf Cours to shoot a 72-hole tournament record of 23-under 261.

That was enough for Hovland, who fired a US PGA career-low 62 on Saturday, to defeat Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz by four strokes despite the host-nation hero closing with five birdies on the last seven holes to shoot 66.

Asked if it was his best week as a professional, Hovland said, “I think I’ll have to say so.”

“I played pretty good golf throughout the week. I didn’t have my best stuff today (but) I wish I could putt the way I did today more often.”

World number 17 Hovland won the European Tour’s BMW International Open at Munich in June. His prior US PGA titles came last year at Mayakoba and at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open.

Hovland has produced seven top-five US PGA finishes this year, including shared fifth at the Tour Championship and runner-up efforts at Riviera at the WGC Concession event.

“I’ve been chipping it so good, making so many up and downs, it takes a lot of pressure off your long game,” Hovland said. “I’ve made some big strides and I hope I can keep it going that way.”

American Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship and 2021 Players Championship winner, was third on 266 after a 69 with countryman Scottie Scheffler fourth on 267 after a 66.

Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, who turned 23 on Sunday, and American Matthew Wolff, who fired a course-record 61 on Thursday, shared fifth on 268.

Hovland played the week with a driver shaft borrowed from US rival James Hahn after shattering his just before his first round.

- ‘Won’t be last time’ -

The Norwegian began the day with a two-stroke lead and made birdies at the par-5 fifth and seventh holes, holed a 10-foot par save at eight then sank a long birdie putt at the ninth to make the turn at 22-under with a four-stroke lead over Scheffler.

“He’s a great ball-striker and really good putter as well and obviously a very talented guy,” Scheffler said of Hovland. “So I’m sure this won’t be the last time you’ll see him on top of the leaderboard.”

Hovland rolled in a 12-foot birdie at the 11th but saw his run of 37 holes without a bogey end at the par-4 12th, trimming his lead to three.

At the par-5 13th, Hovland had to save par from the rough but Scheffler took a double bogey at the par-4 16th and the European star’s lead stretched to five holes with five to play.

Hovland rolled in a 10-foot putt for birdie at 14 but Ortiz charged with his fourth birdie in a row coming at the par-3 15th and Thomas matched him for both to share second at 18-under.

Hovland took a bogey at 15 but answered with a birdie at the par-4 17th to thwart Ortiz’s sizzling finish.

Leading final round scores in the European Tour’s Portugal Masters at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura, Portugal on Sunday (GBR/IRL unless stated, Par 71): 

265 – Thomas Pieters (BEL) 68-64-65-68

267 – Nicolai Hoejgaard (DEN) 67-69-67-64, Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN) 67-65-69-66, Matthieu Pavon (FRA) 68-64-65-70

271 – Nino Bertasio (ITA) 61-69-74-67, Matthew Jordan 70-68-67-66

272 – Francesco Laporta (ITA) 70-66-69-67

273 – Lee Min-Woo (AUS) 68-68-71-66, Richard Bland 70-65-69-69, Victor Perez (FRA) 72-68-68-65, Adri Arnaus (ESP) 65-67-73-68

274 – Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 69-67-66-72, Sam Horsfield 68-66-69-71, Padraig Harrington 67-72-68-67, Oliver Wilson 68-67-70-69, David Horsey 70-68-69-67

275 – Joachim B. Hansen (DEN) 69-67-70-69, Callum Shinkwin 67-66-71-71, Gavin Green (MAS) 66-69-70-70, Sean Crocker (USA) 70-67-70-68, Tapio Pulkkanen (FIN) 69-67-70-69

Leading scores after Sunday’s final round of the US PGA Mayakoba Championship (par-71, USA unless noted):

261 – Viktor Hovland (NOR) 67-65-62-67

265 – Carlos Ortiz (MEX) 67-65-67-66

266 – Justin Thomas 68-65-64-69

267 – Scottie Scheffler 67-64-70-66

268 – Matthew Wolff 61-68-74-65, Joaquin Niemann (CHI) 69-66-67-66

269 – Danny Lee (NZL) 68-69-68-64, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 68-68-68-65, Andrew Landry 66-68-67-68, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 64-69-67-69

270 – Maverick McNealy 68-69-69-64, Seamus Power (IRL) 68-67-67-68, Brendon Todd 67-69-66-68, Talor Gooch 64-69-63-74

271 – Aaron Rai (ENG) 67-71-66-67, Troy Merritt 68-70-66-67, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) 69-68-67-67, Michael Thompson 68-65-69-69, Denny McCarthy 67-68-67-69, John Huh 66-69-67-69, Aaron Wise 63-70-68-70

272 – Andrew Novak 66-72-71-63, Thomas Detry (BEL) 67-68-71-66, Martin Laird (SCO) 68-66-71-67, Adam Long 66-70-68-68, Matt Kuchar 68-66-69-69.

You can view the leaderboard for the Portugal Masters here>, and the Mayakoba Championship here>

© – AFP, 2021

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