Portugal Masters: Steven Brown fires final-round 66 to claim dramatic win

A moment for Steven Brown to savour
A moment for Steven Brown to savour

Steven Brown carded a bogey-free 66 in dramatic circumstances to claim a first European Tour win at the Portugal Masters.

Leaderboard

-17 Brown

-16 Stone, Walters

-15 Saddier

-14 Paisley


Day four report

Steven Brown carded a bogey-free 66 in dramatic circumstances to claim a first European Tour win at the Portugal Masters.

The Englishman had not registered a top-10 finish all season when he arrived in Vilamoura and needed a good result to even have a chance of breaking into the top 115 on the season-long Race to Dubai and keeping his playing privileges for 2020.

After an opening 69 on Thursday, he produced a season's-best 67 on day two and then went two shots better on Saturday, but he was three shots off the lead and provisionally short of moving up from 150th into the top 115.

South Africa's Brandon Stone started day four with a two-shot advantage and he still held that at the turn, with Brown remaining three back despite birdies on the second and ninth.

Another Brown gain on the 11th moved him inside the top 115 for the season and when he put his second shot on the par-five next to four feet for an eagle, he was just a shot off the lead at 17 under.

The 32-year-old then showed nerves of steel to par his way home and, with Stone dropping shots on the 13th and 16th, he had secured the trophy and his job for next season.

"You just never know with this game," he told europeantour.com. "It's crazy to think how well I've played the last month to how bad it was the first two thirds of the year.

"I never thought this was going to happen. I was just counting down ready for Tour School to get my game ready for that.

"The last few weeks I've had a calmness in my head. Even today, I liked the fact that I had to go for it and I wasn't just trying to have a good result. That's probably the difference."

Justin Walters finished alongside countryman Stone at 16 under, moving up from 121st to keep his playing privileges for 2020.

England's Chris Paisley finished at 14 under, a shot clear of compatriot Eddie Pepperell and two ahead of five more Englishmen in Oliver Fisher, Tom Lewis, Jack Singh Brar, Andy Sullivan and Matt Wallace.

Singh Brar moved up from 117th to 109th on the Race to Dubai to keep his place on the European Tour, but countryman Lee Slattery was one of five players to fall the wrong side of the line.


Day three report

Brandon Stone made it a trio of 66s to open up a two-shot lead heading into what's sure to be a dramatic final round at the Portugal Masters.

On a leaderboard littered with South Africans, Stone now stands alone at the top after six birdies took him to 15-under and a clear lead over Dean Burmester and Oliver Fisher.

With Stone exempt for 2020 following his victory in Scotland last summer, and both Burmester and Fisher surely now secure in their status for the season ahead, focus for the leading trio will be on silverware as others look over their shoulders at the Race To Dubai standings.

The top 117 on the season-long points list will earn cards for next year, and there are several players in need of a the performance of their lives - or close to it - to climb inside the magic number.

They include Steven Brown, the Englishman who carded a third-round 65 to leap to fourth. He's now projected to move from 150th to 124th in the Race To Dubai and therefore needs another low round to avoid a trip to Qualifying School.

Justin Walters holed a lengthy par putt on the final green here in 2013 to avoid such a fate and, six years on, he's tied for fifth after a bogey at the 18th. As things stand that means he's move up from 121st to 103rd, but he'll know all too well that one poor round could undo so much hard work.

Alongside Walters are George Coetzee, Haydn Porteous and Jeunghun Wang, in a group on 11-under and four behind.

Coetzee and Porteous are both safe for next year already and, as multiple winners, will feel confident of making inroads on their compatriot, while Wang has three European Tour titles to his name and continues his late-season resurgence.

In Wang's case, there remains work to do as he started the week 119th in the standings, but despite a low-key 71 on Saturday he has breathing room with his ranking projected to improve 18places to 101st.

Matt Wallace, Tom Lewis and Eddie Pepperell are dangermen from fix off the pace along with our 125/1 tip Renato Paratore, but whatever happens at the very top of the leaderboard, it's the sub-plots further down which guarantee drama on the final day of the regular season.

"I hit the ball incredibly well today," said Stone. "I think I hit 18 greens again, which is fantastic. The irons were in tip-top shape. It was really tricky. The pins were tucked and I was fortunate to hole some putts on the back nine and put together a nice score.

"I’ve been working with my coach and we’ve been doing some hard work. He’s got me swinging as good as I have and as quick and as far as I should be. I was putting too much emphasis on hitting the driver straight, when I have an ability to have a clubhead speed in excess of 120mph and dominate golf courses. I feel comfortable with my swing."

Day two report

Two years after holding off Rory McIlroy to win the British Masters, Ireland's Paul Dunne lost his European Tour card after missing the cut in the Portugal Masters.

Dunne, who sprang to prominence after sharing the 54-hole lead in the 2015 Open at St Andrews as an amateur, began the week 118th in the Race to Dubai, with only the top 117 on Sunday earning full playing privileges for next season.

The 26-year-old was just 0.7 points behind Jack Singh Brar in the standings, but while Singh Brar enjoyed a share of ninth place at halfway, Dunne could only add a 74 to his opening 71.

Birdies on the second and third had Dunne in position to avoid a 12th missed cut in 14 events, but a bogey on the ninth was followed by a disastrous triple-bogey eight on the 12th after driving out of bounds.

England's Lee Slattery, who came into the event in 115th place on the money list, also looks set to lose his card after missing the cut following rounds of 72 and 75.

At the top of the leaderboard, England's Oliver Fisher holds a one-shot lead on the course where he carded the first 59 in European Tour history last year.

Fisher fired two eagles and four birdies in a second consecutive 65 to finish 12 under par, with South Africa's Justin Walters and South Korea's Jeunghun Wang, who are 121st and 119th on the money list respectively, on 11 under.

"I played really well the first two rounds last week, my driving was a lot better in France and I just got on a couple of bad runs around that course, which we all know can happen," Fisher said.

Dunne's early exit was good news for Singh Brar, who added a bogey-free 68 to his opening 67 to lie five shots off the lead.

"It's been quite tough the last couple of weeks. I thought just have fun out there and what will be will be," said the 22-year-old, who is coached by former European Tour player Anthony Wall.

"He (Wall) has helped me quite a lot the last few months, on the mental side mostly. I felt like my game's been quite good but I just haven't quite pushed on well enough.

"I played really nicely, probably left a couple out there coming in but I'm pretty happy. I'm just going to stay aggressive and keep trying to make birdies."

Day one report

The event marks the conclusion of a season-long battle for playing rights next year, and at 123rd in the Race To Dubai, de Jager needs to climb six places if he's to retain membership.

Missing out narrowly typically means opportunities still arise, while Qualifying School offers another route back, but de Jager is no doubt a man on the mission like so many at Dom Pedro Victoria.

That mission started flawlessly, five birdies in his opening seven holes supplemented by three more from the turn, before a chance to reach nine-under went begging at the ninth, his final hole.

“I made a few nice putts in the beginning and then really hit it well towards the end and kept the momentum going," De Jager told the European Tour. "The greens are very good, they are really fast. I felt comfortable. I left myself in the right spots on the greens, on the right plateaus, which made it much easier. There are some tricky putts on those greens, but I kept it easy for myself today.

“I think everyone is more conscious of where they are (on the Race to Dubai Rankings). My back is against the wall a little bit, for me I can only going forward. I’m using that as extra motivation and encouragement – not that you need it, but that did help a little bit.”

De Jager need not look far for inspiration, compatriot Justin Walters having saved his card here in 2013, and Walters again made an excellent start in his attempt to repeat history.

Walters lost his mother in the run-up to the 2013 edition, producing an inspired, emotional display to take second, and having lost his dad earlier this summer will be all too aware of the parallels.

At 121st in the standings, his need is only slightly less desperate than de Jager's, and six birdies in a round of 65 made for an ideal start.

Oliver Fisher also posted 65, a year after his famous round of 59 at the course, and at 112th in the Race To Dubai he's one more good round from securing another year of full European Tour membership.

Jake McLeod will need more than that from way down at 159th - only a career-best will do - but he too took care of the first part of the assignment with birdies at the second, fifth, seventh, 12th, 14th and 17th to also shoot six-under.

One shot further back lies Jeunghun Wang, a three-time European Tour winner whose exemption has now expired, and the South Korean is another on the outside looking in.

And then there's Jack Singh Brar, the so-called bubble boy at 117th. He too started well with a four-under 67 which was matched by tournament favourite Matt Wallace, who had been six-under through 11 only to stumble late in the day.

With Sihwan Kim, Darren Fichardt and Alejandro Canizares others to go low from outside the 117, it was a morning of promise for many of those seeking card-saving heroics after Nicolas Colsaerts showed what could be done in France.

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read

Gumball: Looks a big price at 14s1

Value Bet: Go with Gumball

Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday as the November Meeting comes to a close.

Check out Oli Bell's tips for the weekend
2

Oli Bell: Sunday best bets

Six bets for our man at Cheltenham on Sunday and he's expecting Harry Whittington to enjoy a good afternoon.

Gerwyn Price defeated Gary Anderson (Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)3

Price thrashes Anderson; MVG wins

Gerwyn Price thrashed Gary Anderson in a rematch of last year's Grand Slam of Darts final to set up a last four showdown with Michael van Gerwen.

Check out our preview & best bets for Kosovo v England in their final Euro 2020 qualifier4

England to finish with a flourish

Both sides still have plenty to play for as Kosovo host England and, like their first meeting, we're backing goals in this final Euro 2020 qualifier.

Ronnie O'Sullivan5

Ronnie sets up blockbuster with Trump

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump will meet in the final of the Northern Ireland Open after The Rocket eased past Joe Perry 6-1 in their semi-final in Belfast.

Most Read

Gumball: Looks a big price at 14s1

Value Bet: Go with Gumball

Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday as the November Meeting comes to a close.

Check out Oli Bell's tips for the weekend
2

Oli Bell: Sunday best bets

Six bets for our man at Cheltenham on Sunday and he's expecting Harry Whittington to enjoy a good afternoon.

Gerwyn Price defeated Gary Anderson (Picture: Lawrence Lustig/PDC)3

Price thrashes Anderson; MVG wins

Gerwyn Price thrashed Gary Anderson in a rematch of last year's Grand Slam of Darts final to set up a last four showdown with Michael van Gerwen.

Check out our preview & best bets for Kosovo v England in their final Euro 2020 qualifier4

England to finish with a flourish

Both sides still have plenty to play for as Kosovo host England and, like their first meeting, we're backing goals in this final Euro 2020 qualifier.

Ronnie O'Sullivan5

Ronnie sets up blockbuster with Trump

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump will meet in the final of the Northern Ireland Open after The Rocket eased past Joe Perry 6-1 in their semi-final in Belfast.

Racing Tips

Check out Oli Bell's tips for the weekend

Oli Bell: Sunday best bets

Six bets for our man at Cheltenham on Sunday and he's expecting Harry Whittington to enjoy a good afternoon.

Gumball: Looks a big price at 14s

Value Bet: Go with Gumball

Our racing expert Ben Linfoot seeks out the best Value Bet in the Unibet Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday as the November Meeting comes to a close.

Simon Holt will be bidding to make more racegoers happy on Sunday

Simon Holt: In with the Neuf

Our Simon Holt continued his fine 2019 with 18/1 BetVictor Gold Cup winner Happy Diva - don't miss his tips for Cheltenham Sunday.

Next Race Off

08:00 Mumbai
3
(4)
Hunt For Gold
J: Suraj Narredu
1
(1)
Pablo
J: A Sandesh

Football Tips

Check out our preview & best bets for Kosovo v England in their final Euro 2020 qualifier

England to finish with a flourish

Both sides still have plenty to play for as Kosovo host England and, like their first meeting, we're backing goals in this final Euro 2020 qualifier.

All of Sporting Life's current best bets across a range of sports

Our best bets

Check out Sporting Life's best bets across racing, football and more.

Tyrrell Hatton

Sporting Life Tipping Record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in November 2019.