Lucas Bjerregaard became the 10th Danish player to win on the European Tour
There’s winning your first European Tour event and then there’s shooting a Sunday 65 to win by four.
That’s just what 26-year-old Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark did in his 112th career start at the Portugal Masters.
If you had to guess where his first win would come, Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura, Portugal, appeared a prime candidate.
Bjerregaard placed ninth and 12th here in the last two years and kept the good vibes going this week. It’s why I tabbed him as one of the best value picks entering the week. He’s now 14-for-14 in carding rounds of par or better at Dom Pedro.
“To be in contention felt really good and to come out on top feels even better,” Bjerregaard said on Golf Channel after the round. “I felt confident. My girlfriend asked me this morning if I was nervous and I said ‘No, no, don’t worry; I’ve got this.'”
Bjerregaard (66-65-68-65) entered the day with a one stroke lead over playing partner George Coetzee and two ahead of Marc Warren, Eddie Pepperell and Nino Bertasio with several others in the mix.
Scoring conditions were ideal on a gorgeous afternoon in Portugal. Even prettier was Bjerregaard’s front nine three-under 32 that moved him two ahead of Coetzee.
The two matched birdies on the par-4 10th but that was the last blip by Coetzee. He rode the par train all the way to the 18th where a tee shot in the water — after the tournament was in hand for Bjerregaard — resulted in a triple-bogey seven and a drop to a T7 finish.
Bjerregaard made bogey on Nos. 9 and 14 but was otherwise able to coast through the afternoon without a serious threat. Warren made eagle on the par-5 17th in the group ahead of Bjerregaard to temporarily pull within two strokes, but a Bjerregaard birdie on No. 17 and a Warren bogey on No. 18 closed that door quickly.
The win propels Bjerregaard from No. 114 to 47 in the Race to Dubai.
1. Lucas Bjerregaard -20
2. Marc Warren -16
T3. Graeme Storm and Eddie Pepperell -15
T5. Ricardo Gouveia and José-Filipe Lima -14
T7. Dean Burmester, Sebastian Soderberg, Nacho Elvira, Ashun Wu and George Coetzee -13
Pádraig Harrington defended his 2016 Portugal Masters title well. The Irishman made no worse than bogey all week and had three rounds in the 60s en route to tying for 25th at 10-under.
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While Warren couldn’t chase down Bjerregaard for the win, a solo second place finish was his best result since 2015. The Scot turned around what was a disappointing 2017 with no top-10s and 10 missed cuts in 19 tries.
Connor Syme had a phenomenal professional debut. The 22-year-old Scot was in the 60s each day and tied for 12th at 12-under. He tied for low score on the back-nine with a 32 and shot a bogey-free 67 on Sunday.
Pre-tournament favorite Thomas Pieters made the weekend but that was about it. Weekend rounds of 73 and 74 placed him 74th, one spot away from DFL.
A native son has never won this event, one of two European Tour events in Portugal. The country’s top two players, Ricardo Gouveia and José-Filipe Lima, showed well, though. Both tied for seventh at 14-under and Gouveia’s Sunday 65 matched Bjerregaard for low round of the day.
Notable finishes not yet mentioned: 18-year-old Phachara Khongwatmai T12 (-12), David Lingmerth T20 (-11), Haotong Li T25 (-10), Shane Lowry T29 (-9), Russell Knox T34 (-8), Danny Willett T68 (-1), Ryan Fox MC (-1) and Andy Sullivan (E).