South African golfer George Coetzee claimed his fifth European Tour title – and his first on European soil – after winning the Portugal Masters by two strokes on Sunday.
The 34-year-old, who is also an avid surfer, is being praised for the “calm and composure” he showed during the final round at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, posting a bogey-free round of 66 to secure victory.
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.
At the end of the day, Coetzee was delighted by his first win in Europe.
“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,” he said.
“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,” the new Portugal Masters champion added.
He also said his “focus in lockdown” contributed to his success.
“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,” Coetzee said.
The golfer was also delighted about returning to Portugal, a country where he not only loves to golf but also surf.
“You’ll never catch me saying anything negative about Portugal. Firstly, it has great waves, I love the ocean, and it has always has good golf courses. One of the best things about Portugal is its people, due to the way they treat and welcome those who visit the country,” said the golfer.