Robert MacIntyre Secures Maiden European Tour Victory
ROBERT MacINTYRE overcame a rain delay and produced a birdie-birdie finish to secure his maiden European Title thanks to a closing round of 64 at the Cyprus Showdown.
The left-handed Scot was rookie of the year last season but has struggled to recapture that form in 2020. However, he narrowly failed to win the Cyprus Open at Aphrodite Hills last week and his good form continued over the same course.
He was a model of consistency all week, comfortably finishing in the pack as the field was reduced to 32 and then 19 players after rounds two and three, with the scores reset to par for the final two days as part of the innovative format. He finished a stroke clear of Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura. Spaniard Jorge Campillo finished at five under after a birdie-eagle finish, a shot ahead of Belgian Thomas Detry, England's Callum Shinkwin and American Johannes Veerman.
MacIntyre finished 11th on the Race to Dubai last season, with three runner-up finishes and four other top-10s. The 2020 season had been a struggle until he arrived in Cyprus, but he has now become the 12th first-time winner of the season, and the second Scot after Marc Warren.
"This is what I've been working for," said MacIntyre. "It's been a difficult few months for me, only my family know what is going on. I can't believe it. My game is there, tee to green I've been absolutely brilliant the last two weeks but the putter has been cold - stone cold.
"When the rain delay came in there I said to [caddie] Mike, ‘It's time to show up’. I hit a great iron shot into 15 and there it was, it turned up right at the right time."
There was a seven-way tie for the lead at three under as the day's first group were coming to the end of their rounds and the final group were making the turn.
Kawamura had birdied the first and the par five third and, although he dropped a shot on the next, he holed from 12 feet at the fifth and made another on the 11th to share the lead.
The 27-year-old then found the putting surface on the driveable par four 14th and got down in two to lead on his own. He soon had MacIntyre for company as the 24-year-old hit a stunning approach to ten feet at the 13th to join the lead. He had earlier birdied the second but given the shot straight back before holing a 20 footer on the fifth and taking advantage of the par-five sixth and10th holes.
Marcus Armitage had also been in a share of the lead at four under before a 48-minute delay due to the threat of lightning, but the Englishman triple bogeyed the last when play resumed.
Kawamura holed a six footer on the 16th to get to five under but MacIntyre would not be shaken off as he holed an 15 foot putt from the fringe at the 15th to join him.
The Scot then put his tee shot to the 17th to tap-in range but ahead at the last, Kawamura got down in two after going just over the green and MacIntyre needed a birdie on the par five for victory.
He split the fairway with his drive, put his approach to 20 feet and two-putted for victory - a win that will surely be the first of many.
Campillo made a great start, with birdies on the second and third but after a bogey on the seventh, he made six pars in a row before a birdie on the 14th set him up for a big finish.
Veerman bounced back from two early bogeys in his 67, Detry eagled the last in a round that also contained two bogeys and a double, and last week's winner Shinkwin carded an eagle, three birdies and a bogey. Malaysian Gavin Green and Frenchman Alexander Levy finished at three under, a shot clear of English pair Steven Brown and Matthew Jordan, South African Louis de Jager, Swede Niklas Lemke and German Bernd Ritthammer.
Carlos Ortiz won the Vivint Houston Open at Memorial Park with birdies on two of the final three holes for his first victory on the PGA Tour win 118 starts but the man who will probably gain most satisfaction from his performance is Dustin Johnson. It was the American’s first tournament since recovering from Covid-19 and after a shaky opening round of 72, Johnson followed it with rounds of 66, 66 and 65 to finish in a tie for second place with Hideki Matsuyama, two shots adrift of Ortiz.
Ortiz started Sunday in the final group, one shot behind leader Sam Burns and tied with Jason Day. “Every time you're inside three strokes from the leader, you know you have a good chance,” Ortiz said. “I've been putting myself in those spots quite a bit the past year and I feel like I had what I needed to get it done.”
Ortiz holed out twice from off the green on the front nine to take a two-shot lead at the turn. He still had plenty of work, however. His two closest pursuers were Johnson, the reigning FedExCup champion, and Brooks Koepka, the four-time major winner who helped to redesign the course.
“I was trying to mind my own business,” Ortiz said. “I've been working really hard on staying positive, patient and don't let my emotions get the best of me and I think I did an amazing job this week.”
Memorial Park’s closing holes provide a real challenge but Ortiz was up to the job. At the par-five 16th he faced a 223-yard second shot to a water-guarded green. Ortiz started walking after his ball almost immediately after striking it. He knew it was good, and he watched it roll eight feet from the hole. He missed the eagle putt, but his birdie gave him back the lead he had lost after making par on the first six holes of the back nine.
Ortiz walked to the final tee with a one-shot lead. They hit both the fairway and the green before rolling in the 22-foot birdie putt to seal his first PGA Tour victory. He missed just four fairways and three greens in the final round to shoot a 65 that gave him a two-shot victory over Johnson and Matsuyama. Koepka finished fifth, five shots behind Ortiz, while Day faded and tied for seventh. Koepka closed with consecutive 65s.
Johnson missed a seven-foot birdie putt on the 17th, and both he and Matsuyama missed birdie tries on the 18th. Johnson hit the ball superbly all weekend but struggled on the greens. However, he will head to Augusta for The Masters knowing that his game is in good shape, and he is fully fit and back to peak health.
Ortiz became the third player from Mexico to win on the PGA Tour, and his maiden win came in his adopted home state. In his first full season as a professional, he won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour to earn an immediate PGA Tour promotion. He couldn’t have imagined he’d have to wait six years for another win.
“I'm really happy the way everything played out, and then obviously this time it went my way,” Ortiz said. “I feel like I've put in the work, my team has been working with me really hard and I'm just happy.”
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