VILAMOURA, Portugal -- Britain's former
European No. 1 Lee Westwood won the Portugal Masters on
Sunday to move atop the 2009 Order of Merit.
A closing 6-under-par 66 for a 23-under 265 four-round
total earned the Englishman his first European Tour title in
more than two years. He finished two strokes ahead of Italy's
Westwood's $730,000 first prize took him comfortably past
the previous money-list (Race to Dubai) leader Rory McIlroy, who
finished well down the field.
Trailing double U.S. Open winner Retief Goosen by three
strokes overnight, Westwood took a firm hold of the tournament
with birdies at the first four holes.
Molinari, recovering from a double-bogey on the
seventh, caught Westwood by the 12th, only to let his rival get
away by missing a putt of under three feet on the 16th to bogey.
Westwood survived a visit to the Victoria club gardens after
a wayward approach to the long 17th green and his birdie there
with a stunning shot from over trees closed out Molinari.
He told reporters after his 19th European Tour win: "I had
just the start I wanted today and from then on played patient
golf just like I did 10 years ago.
"I said a couple of weeks ago I needed to win twice to have
chance of winning the Order of Merit, so I'm looking for the
other one now. Winning is definitely a habit and I'd got out of
it. Hopefully I've got the habit back."
Including the $15 million Dubai World Championship finale,
there are a maximum five events left for the Order of Merit
McIlroy tried to make it difficult for Westwood to overtake
him and lay eight-under for the day playing the last. When he
found water, the 20-year-old Northern Irishman had to settle for
a 66 and 12-under, earning him only 30th place.
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, citing
dehydration for a lackluster third round, chased the leading
pair hard but the Irishman ran out of steam.
Despite a bogey on the last for a 67, Harrington, finishing
four strokes behind Westwood, took third, a shot better than
Swede Peter Hanson (68) and Germany's Marcel Siem (67).
South Africa's Goosen slipped away badly, closing with a 75
to end on 271, six shots behind the winner.