Shane Lowry falters after fast start as Ortiz wins in Houston

Offaly golfer carded four birdies in a row on front nine and he now heads for Augusta

Shane Lowry tees off on the first during the final round of the Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Shane Lowry tees off on the first during the final round of the Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, Texas. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

 

Victory matters. Carlos Ortiz, his eyes welling up with emotion, sought to keep the tears at bay after an 18-footer for birdie on the final hole saw the 29-year-old Mexican claim the Houston Open title and a breakthrough win on the PGA Tour. His long-awaited victory, in the 118th appearance of his career on the circuit, was acknowledged by actual applause from the limited crowd allowed access to the venue.

Ortiz closed with a final round 65 for a winning total of 13-under-par 267, giving him a two strokes winning margin over world number one Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since testing positive last month for Covid-19, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, with both runners-up showcasing their sharpness ahead of this week’s Masters tournament at Augusta.

Shane Lowry, another of those bound for the Masters, flirted with a final round charge for the title when reeling off four successive birdies on his front nine, turning in 31, only to come undone on the homeward journey with back-to-back bogeys on the 10th and 11th and then a double-bogey on the 16th scuppered his hopes of a top-10. Lowry finished with a 68 for 274, leaving the Offaly golfer in tied-11th.

Lowry was on fire early on: he rolled in a 10 footer for his opening birdie on the second; reached the Par 5 third in two and two-putted for another birdie; hit his approach to five feet on the fourth for another, then rolled in a 10-footer on the fifth to move up to second place on the course.

But Lowry’s tee shot on the 10th found a fairway bunker as he dropped his first shot of the round and then three-putted the 12th for another bogey. Lowry had a golden chance to claim another birdie on the 15th where he hit his tee-shot on the Par 3 to three feet but missed the putt and then suffered a double bogey seven on the 16th where he put his approach shot, his third to the Par 5, into the water. His response was to bounce back with a birdie on the 17th, to provide evidence that his game is in good shape ahead of the Masters.

Pádraig Harrington, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, closed with a final round 69 for 279 (tied-32nd) to finish his season’s work on the PGA Tour, while Graeme McDowell - who moves on to Augusta - signed off with a 70 for 281 (tied-44th).

Ortiz claimed the title in style, completing a bogey-free final round that featured five birdies – on the fourth, eighth, ninth, 16th and 18th – for an emotional win, which will ensure he is at Augusta for the 2021 Masters in April.

Carlos Ortiz celebrates after winning. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Carlos Ortiz celebrates after winning. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A winner three times on the old Web.com Tour back in 2014 but who struggled to bring that quality to the main circuit until his win in Houston, Ortiz said: “I’ve had the (winning) feeling before and I missed it, it’s unbelievable the way this feels. I played great. I hit an amazing shot and 16 and obviously finishing with a birdie helped too,” said Ortiz.

“Finishing with the putt on 18 felt amazing. I felt like I hit the ball unbelievable.”

Brooks Koepka, who had a hand in the resign of the Memorial Park course, finished with a 65 to shoot up the leaderboard and finish in tied-fifth on 272. “It was a nice finish, to build some confidence, I guess, going into Augusta scoring well. The first two days, it’s a shame I put in a new driver. Never should have done that, probably cost me the tournament, but at the same time I’m playing well, just got to play well next week!”

Collated final round scores and totals in the Houston Open, Memorial Park Golf Course, United States of America (USA unless stated, par 70):

267 Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 67 68 67 65

269 Dustin Johnson 72 66 66 65, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 70 70 66 63

271 Talor Gooch 68 69 71 63

272 Brooks Koepka 72 70 65 65, Sepp Straka (Aut) 68 69 66 69

273 Jason Day (Aus) 67 68 67 71, Sam Burns 68 65 68 72, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 71 70 67 65, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 70 72 68 63

274 Aaron Wise 70 66 69 69, Shane Lowry (Irl) 69 69 68 68, Adam Long 68 70 69 67, Patton Kizzire 69 67 70 68

275 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 68 71 66, Michael Thompson 67 72 67 69, Harold Varner III 67 71 72 65, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 70 69 68 68, Russell Knox (Sco) 69 71 67 68

276 JT Poston 70 67 70 69, Dawie Van Der Walt (Rsa) 70 66 69 71, Maverick McNealy 71 71 67 67, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 69 69 67

277 Tony Finau 69 69 68 71, Scott Brown 69 68 72 68, Austin Cook 71 72 68 66, Brian Harman 71 69 72 65, Corey Conners (Can) 69 67 73 68

278 Charley Hoffman 71 69 71 67, Russell Henley 69 72 69 68, Cameron Tringale 70 70 69 69

279 Scottie Scheffler 67 75 72 65, Adam Scott (Aus) 68 69 74 68, Scott Piercy 68 74 69 68, Troy Merritt 74 68 69 68, Fabian Gomez (Arg) 70 69 69 71, Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 71 68 71 69

280 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 70 69 72 69, Justin Harding (Rsa) 72 68 72 68, Denny McCarthy 69 72 69 70, Nate Lashley 73 68 69 70, Erik Barnes 71 72 73 64, Will Gordon 76 67 65 72

281 Chris Kirk 73 68 74 66, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 69 73 69 70, Brandt Snedeker 65 71 76 69, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 73 70 68 70

282 Max Homa 74 68 69 71, John Huh 73 69 69 71

283 Brian Stuard 73 69 69 72, Zach Johnson 73 70 69 71, Mark Hubbard 69 71 72 71, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 68 73 72 70, James Hahn 71 71 73 68, Isaiah Salinda 71 69 75 68, Brice Garnett 74 68 72 69, Sungjae Im (Kor) 74 69 73 67

284 Kramer Hickok 75 68 68 73, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 72 69 73 70, Lanto Griffin 72 71 71 70

285 Doc Redman 71 70 73 71, Kevin Chappell 70 71 72 72

286 Matt Jones (Aus) 69 72 77 68

287 Kristoffer Ventura (Nor) 69 69 76 73, Jamie Lovemark 73 69 70 75

289 Sean O’Hair 71 69 75 74, Scott Harrington 70 72 74 73

295 Cameron Davis (Aus) 67 76 77 75

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