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Coetzee crowned Portugal Masters champion

COETZEE CROWNED PORTUGAL MASTERS CHAMPIONGeorge Coetzee secured his fifth European Tour title - and his first on European soil - after producing a short game masterclass to hold off the chasing pack and win the 2020 Portugal Masters by two shots.

The South African did not put a foot wrong on Sunday afternoon, posting a bogey-free round of 66 to triumph for the second week in a row, after winning at his home club, Pretoria Country Club, on the Sunshine Tour last week.

Coetzee began the day with a one shot advantage but was knocked off the top of the leaderboard early on after parring his opening six holes in a patient start to his final round. The 34-year-old ignited his round at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course with gains on the seventh, eighth and 11th, before holing brilliant birdie putts at the 16th and 17th to move to 16 under par and give himself a two shot cushion heading to the 18th tee.

Englishman Laurie Canter finished second on 14 under par after he also made five birdies in his round of 66, while his countryman and World Number 16 Tommy Fleetwood was another stroke back in a tie for third with Swede Joakim Lagergren.

The European Tour’s Golf for Good initiative continued this week with two local charities - Existir and APEXA - and EDGA (formerly the European Disabled Golf Association) sharing €50,000, with the European Tour and partner Vilamoura World pledging €25,000 apiece.

Player comments...

George Coetzee: "That was the next step for me really (winning on European soil). 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! I told my caddie, I can’t believe I just did that, and my preparation mentally kind of paid off as well."

"It has been my focus in lockdown. You would be surprised at the stuff I had been working on. I was actually doing keepy uppy 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 practicing 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."

Laurie Canter: “I felt like I hit a reasonable tee shot but just obviously favoured the right side and was a couple of yards in that rough, and it was just dead, so I was trying to hack something out front right, overdid it and the bunker shot was horrendous to be honest. I was trying to get it running up the tier to have some sort of putt at it but to hole that putt was awesome.

“At that point I still felt like maybe I had a chance, you know anything can happen on 16, 17, 18 but George is class, his closed out really well but overall, really chuffed with that. “It is something I am actively working on a lot (to smile more on course). It is something for me that I know can really help but obviously for anyone that has played golf, it is challenging to do at times. It is something that I actively work on a lot and the more I can get into those sorts of situations and try and take it a bit more in my stride, the better I will become hopefully.”

Tommy Fleetwood: “I’m happy with how I played and nice to put yourself in contention after hitting shots like 17 and 18 coming down the stretch.

“The way I have hit it because I was nowhere near, it for a few weeks there in America and then came home. It wasn’t about reassessing, it is so hard to take a step back when you are playing tournaments because you have always got a round of golf to play and it is hard to distance yourself from it and set yourself up on a range and find what you are looking for.

“I did some really good practice and I wanted to play this week because at the end of the day, I was working on things that I know were right, I had simple thoughts this week, but you have to hit shots like 17 and that is the only time you are going to find out how it's doing. So that was my most pleasing thing, the way I played, the way I hit it. On the greens was disappointing, sounds daft but it was, inside six feet I was poor this week but that's golf sometimes.”

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