Portugal Masters: George Coetzee wins as Tommy Fleetwood enjoys fast finish
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 13/09/20 7:32pm
George Coetzee held off spirited challenges from Tommy Fleetwood and Laurie Canter to claim a two-stroke victory at the Portugal Masters.
Coetzee was a model of calm and composure throughout the final round in Vilamoura, closing with a bogey-free 66 for a winning score of 16 under par to land his fifth European Tour title.
Fleetwood, Canter and Joakim Lagergren kept the pressure on the leader down the stretch, with Fleetwood and Lagergren sharing the clubhouse lead on 13 under, with Coetzee just a shot ahead with a handful of holes remaining.
Canter then jumped into a share of the lead with birdies at 16 and 17, but Coetzee matched those birdies to give himself a comfortable cushion to take down the final hole at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Club.
Coetzee slept on a one-shot overnight lead following his outstanding finish to his third round, and he was content to grind out the pars early on the final day until picking up birdies at the seventh and eighth to retain his place at the summit.
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The 34-year-old made it three birdies in four holes at the 11th, while Fleetwood and Lagergren suddenly vaulted into the mix when both covered the inward nine in just 32 blows.
Fleetwood, who had three straight birdies from the second, picked up shots on three of the final four holes to return a 64, matching the low score of the day and ensuring he will head to Winged Foot for the US Open with his game in excellent order.
Lagergren provided an early highlight when he holed his approach to the third for an eagle-two, with the Swede also enjoying a birdie barrage over the final third of his round, and he looked set to close with three straight birdies until missing from six feet on the last green.
Canter also had a flying start and got to 14 under when he broke a frustrating run of 10 straight pars with birdies at 16 and 17, and a par at the last snatched the clubhouse lead and meant Fleetwood could head to the airport to board his flight to New York.
But Coetzee stood up to the pressure and matched Canter's birdies at 16 and 17 to vault two strokes clear of the pack, and he ripped his final tee shot down the middle en route to a cast-iron par, and his third 66 of the tournament.
His victory was his first on European soil, and he said: "That was the next step for me really. I have always had a list of things I wanted to achieve in my career as a golfer and originally I never thought I would get as far as winning on the European Tour, so ticking that box a while back was really nice.
"Then I started to realise that I was a bit comfortable playing back home and I needed to go to the next step and win away from home.
"Some of the events I target are the Qatar Masters and the Portugal Masters because I tend to play really well in those countries and the golf courses really suit me.
"I was very nervous playing this course and knowing that there are booby traps around the corner every now and then, so stepping on to 18 and hitting the best drive I hit all week, I was shocked!
"My preparation mentally kind of paid off as well, that had been my focus in lockdown. You would be surprised at the stuff I had been working on. I was actually doing keepy-uppies with a football to see how many I could do to test my mental skills because we weren't allowed to do much else.
"I was practising darts, all sorts of funny things away from golf to work on my mental game, which was really exciting for me and I didn't know what the end result was going to be but I am very happy to see that it is giving me victories."