George Coetzee takes the Portugal Masters after Sunday 66

Tommy Fleetwood finishes with a flourish but he trails winner by three in Vilamoura

George Coetzee celebrates his victory in the Portugal Masters. Photograph: Luke Walker/Getty

George Coetzee celebrates his victory in the Portugal Masters. Photograph: Luke Walker/Getty

 

South Africa’s George Coetzee revealed how an unusual combination of snooker, darts and football during lockdown laid the foundation for his fifth European Tour title and a second victory in the space of a week in the Portugal Masters.

Coetzee carded a closing 66 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura to finish 16 under par, two shots ahead of England’s Laurie Canter, who also returned a 66.

Pre-tournament favourite Tommy Fleetwood completed his preparations for the US Open in style with a superb 64 to finish a shot further back alongside Sweden’s Joakim Lagergren.

Coetzee took a one-shot lead into the final round but fell two behind Masahiro Kawamura after the Japanese player carded three early birdies.

However, Coetzee ended a run of six straight pars with birdies on the seventh and eighth and picked up another shot on the 11th before enjoying a major slice of luck on the next, where his drive only cleared the water by a few feet and stuck in the bank of the hazard.

Canter ended a run of 10 straight pars with birdies on the 16th and 17th to briefly catch Coetzee, but moments later the 34-year-old almost holed his tee shot to the 16th and converted the birdie putt from close range.

Another birdie on the 17th gave Coetzee the cushion of a two-shot lead and a straightforward par on the last secured a second win in seven days following his success in the Titleist Championship on the Sunshine Tour at his home club in Pretoria.

“I’m ecstatic,” Coetzee said. “It’s the work me and my psychologist have been doing and it’s nice to see it pay off.

“You’d be surprised at the stuff I was working on during lockdown. I was doing keepy uppys with a football to test my mental skills. At the start I could do maybe five, at the end of lockdown I could do 86 if I entered with a good frame of mind.

“I was practising darts, I was practising all sorts of funny things away from golf to work on my mental game. But the main sport I focused on was snooker. It’s probably the closest sport you get to golf because it’s a stationary ball that you have to approach in a certain way.

“I don’t have any technical background in snooker, everything was based on my frame of mind. At the start of lockdown I could do maybe a 20 break, at the end I almost made a 50 break.

“Unfortunately I lost my club championship semi-final last Monday — maybe that’s what inspired me to win back-to-back weeks to feel better about myself!”

Meanwhile Jonathan Caldwell finished in a share of 50th place after he closed with a round of 70 on Sunday.

Canter’s second place is the 30-year-old from Bath’s best finish on the European Tour and it was secured in some style by holing from 35 feet for par on the last after finding sand with his approach.

“The bunker shot was horrendous but to hole that putt is awesome,” Canter said. “At that point I still felt like maybe I had a chance but George is class and closed it out really well. But overall I’m really chuffed.”

Fleetwood was equally pleased with his final round and preparations for a much tougher test at Winged Foot in the second major of the season.

“I’m very, very happy with how I played and it’s nice to put yourself in contention and have to hit shots like I did on 17 and 18 down the stretch,” Fleetwood said.

“I was nowhere near for a few weeks in America and it’s so hard to take a step back when you’re playing tournaments because you always have a round of golf to play.

“I did some really good practice and I wanted to play this week because I was working on things I knew were right, but you have to hit shots (in competition) because that’s the only time you’re going to find out how it’s doing.”

Collated final round scores & totals in the European Tour Portugal Masters, Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura, Portugal (Britain & Irl unless stated, par 71):

268 George Coetzee (Rsa) 66 70 66 66

270 Laurie Canter 64 72 68 66

271 Tommy Fleetwood 68 71 68 64, Joakim Lagergren (Swe) 69 69 68 65

273 Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 67 71 65 70

274 Niklas Lemke (Swe) 70 69 65 70, Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez (Spa) 70 68 67 69

275 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 69 68 70 68, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 68 71 70 66, Julien Guerrier (Fra) 62 66 75 72, Johannes Veerman (USA) 69 68 70 68, John Catlin (USA) 72 69 65 69, Scott Vincent (Zim) 70 65 72 68

276 Ben Evans 69 71 68 68, Matthew Jordan 66 69 74 67, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 67 70 70 69, Grant Forrest 72 67 69 68, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 71 69 68 68, Rikard Karlberg (Swe) 72 67 70 67, Wil Besseling (Ned) 70 70 68 68, Liam Johnston 61 74 70 71, Jack Senior 69 71 72 64, Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 70 65 73 68

277 Dale Whitnell 67 74 66 70, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 70 70 68 69, Martin Simonsen (Den) 68 67 73 69

278 Sihwan Kim (Kor) 67 66 72 73, Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 67 71 68 72, Richard Bland 67 70 73 68, Ben Stow 72 69 67 70, Sebastian Soderberg (Swe) 66 75 73 64

279 Adrien Saddier (Fra) 67 68 73 71, Paul Waring 67 69 71 72, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 70 71 70 68, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 67 69 75 68

280 Ricardo Gouveia (Por) 69 72 69 70, Adrian Meronk (Pol) 69 66 72 73, Toby Tree 73 67 70 70, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 67 71 74 68, Tom Gandy (IOM) 69 68 72 71, Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin) 70 70 70 70, Antoine Rozner (Fra) 68 67 73 72, Jordan Smith 73 67 71 69

281 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 67 70 71, Garrick Porteous 70 69 69 73, Jamie Donaldson 69 67 74 71, Rhys Enoch 69 71 71 70, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 73 68 68 72, Marcel Schneider (Ger) 69 72 71 69

282 Marcus Armitage 68 67 73 74, Julian Suri (USA) 69 71 71 71, Andres Romero (Arg) 71 70 70 71, Bryce Easton (Rsa) 68 72 68 74, Ricardo Santos (Por) 69 71 72 70, Francesco Laporta (Ita) 67 70 72 73, Jonathan Caldwell 65 72 75 70, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 67 69 74 72

283 David Law 69 71 70 73, Max Schmitt (Ger) 70 71 68 74, Stephen Gallacher 76 65 71 71, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 66 71 73 73, Lars Van Meijel (Ned) 71 70 71 71, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 69 71 73 70

285 Steven Brown 68 70 74 73, Tomas Guimaraes Bessa (Por) 68 70 75 72, Matthew Southgate 69 72 74 70

286 Dave Coupland 72 68 71 75, Carlos Pigem (Spa) 72 69 75 70

287 Emilio Cuartero Blanco (Spa) 70 71 71 75

292 David Drysdale 70 68 77 77

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.