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Posted by portugalpress on September 24, 2018
Portugal Masters 2018 winner Tom Lewis receiving his trophy from Luís Silva of Turismo de Portugal – Photo: WARREN LITTLE/GETTY IMAGES
“Mr 59” Oliver Fisher receiving his trophy from Stefano Saviotti and Keith Cousins – Photo: JOÃO LOBATO

England’s Tom Lewis established a new Portugal Masters record as the first two-time winner of the trophy. Lewis claimed his second European Tour victory at the Victoria course, Vilamoura, where he had lifted the trophy in the 2011 event.
The tournament’s reputation for the unexpected was also in evidence on the second, historic, day as another Englishman, Oliver Fisher, scored the first ever ‘59’ in European championship history.

Before last week at Victoria, the magic ‘59’ had never been achieved, and Fisher’s sub-60 score is the first from over 690,000 rounds of European championship play. From the second day, the expectation of more history in the making proved entirely justified, as the irrepressible Tom Lewis staged an amazing fightback to repeat his 2011 triumph.

Lewis had returned an opening round score of 72, but scores of 63 and 61 on day two and three respectively, placed him just two shots behind final day leader, Australian Lucas Herbert. While the record score of ‘59’ could have, understandably, dominated the event, a sensational final day lived up to the Portugal Masters’ tradition for drama and excitement.

The sun-kissed Dom Pedro Victoria course was a fitting setting for an enthralling three-way battle between Lewis, Herbert and England’s Eddie Pepperell.

Lewis demonstrated resilience and determination to achieve what was ultimately a convincing three-shot score for victory, with a final round of 66, to finish the tournament on 22 under-par. However, the magnitude of the Englishman’s second Vilamoura triumph is illustrated by the achievement of 24 birdies in his last 54 holes and having gone 45 holes without a bogey between the last hole on Thursday and the 10th on Sunday. Afterwards, Lewis reflected on his second triumph at the Portugal Masters: “It’s unbelievable. I’m so happy, it’s been a rough ride but this week I played hard. To be back here in Portugal and play the way I played and to have the crowds we had, I feel great right now. I think this one means more, it means a lot to come and win this again.”

On the last day, it was a battle between Lewis, Herbert and Pepperell, and the dramatic closing holes were a fitting end to the tournament. Lewis found water off the 17th but holed a stunning 35-foot putt for par; Pepperell’s challenge faltered with a bogey on the last, while Lewis and Herbert maintained their duel in the sun. Herbert drove into water off the 18th, as the tension eased Lewis. However, until the very last, the outcome was uncertain, and the winning margin does not entirely reflect a terrific, nail-biting contest.

Another glittering Portugal Masters has provided wonderful golf, and golfing legend Sergio Garcia’s participation illustrates the event’s stellar status, and as the action over four days of intense competition underlined.

After the most unpredictable day in the tournament’s history, England’s Oliver Fisher is now forever etched in the record books of European golf. Astonishingly, the 30-year-old from Essex had begun the second day with the prime objective of making the cut. However, he carded the magic 59 with a scintillating performance, marked by his nerveless approach to the prospect of making history. “I was just trying to make the weekend,” he revealed afterwards, “but after birdieing the first three holes it was at the back of my mind.”

Ten birdies, one eagle, and seven pars delivered the historic round over the Dom Pedro Victoria course. After converting a 20-foot par putt on the 16th, a birdie on either of the final two holes would provide the chance of the first ever sub-60 round in European golf.

On the penultimate hole, it looked as if a last-gasp 3 could be required on the 18th, as Fisher faced the challenge of not only a tricky five-foot putt but also the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of entering the record books. However, the Englishman displayed a nerveless temperament to sink a birdie putt on the 17th, setting up the objective of a regulation par for glory at the last, which he duly delivered.

Ultimately, Fisher was joined in his final tournament placing of 7th by Sergio Garcia, who looks in great shape for this week’s Ryder Cup, Finland’s Kim Koivu, Frenchman Raphael Jaquelin, and Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia. The Portuguese player led the home challenge and his highly creditable 15-under par is further encouragement for the positive trends, consistently indicating a very bright future for every level of golf in Portugal.

Once again, a memorable Portugal Masters has provided drama and excitement to the last. Tom Lewis is the only name that now appears twice on the magnificent trophy, and Fisher’s fantastic ‘59’ ensured that the magnificent Dom Pedro Algarve venue is also enshrined in the record books. This year, the tournament has again underlined the status of the Portugal Masters, with players and fans already looking forward to 2019 and another magnificent Portuguese golfing occasion.

By TOM CALLAN

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