Westwood storms back for Portugal Masters title



Vilamoura, Portugal (Sports Network) - Lee Westwood made an unbelievable birdie from behind trees at the 17th hole Sunday en route to come-from-behind victory at the Portugal Masters.

Westwood fired a six-under 66 on Sunday and won the title at 23-under-par 265, which was good for a two-stroke victory over Francesco Molinari at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course.

Westwood collected his 19th European Tour victory and first since the 2007 British Masters. The first-place check moved Westwood to first in the Race to Dubai. The Englishman hasn't been on top of the money list since he won the money race in 2000.

"I feel great. It's been a while since I've been there," said Westwood. "It's been nearly 10 years. I said a couple of weeks ago that I needed to win a couple of events to have a good chance to win the Order of Merit. I won one now."

The championship came down to Westwood and Molinari late on the back nine. They were tied at 22-under par after Westwood made a tough five-foot par save at 15 and a routine par at 16.

Westwood, playing in the group ahead of Molinari, found the fairway off the tee at the par-five 17th, but badly pulled his second shot into the gallery on the left.

While Westwood appeared to be making a mess of the 17th, Molinari missed a short par putt at 16. The bogey knocked him one behind Westwood, who pulled off the shot of the championship.

Westwood got a free drop, but it didn't cure every woe. He still had some trees and bushes directly in front of him to contend with.

Westwood hit an amazing pitch almost between trees that nearly trickled right into the hole. He settled for a tap-in birdie to move two ahead of Molinari with one to play.

"All I could see was trees and water and a really tight lie," said Westwood. "That's down to all of the hard work I've been doing at home on the chipping green."

Molinari had a chance to keep pace with Westwood, but hit his second to a spot close to where Westwood hit his a few minutes earlier. Molinari hit a good third to give himself a chance at birdie, but once again, missed a short putt.

Westwood, armed with a two-shot lead, hit into the rough at 18, but was able to save par. All he had to do was wait on Molinari, who would need to hole his second to force a playoff.

Molinari had to wait longer than normal when his playing partner and third- round leader Retief Goosen drove into the water. When Molinari's turn came up he hit an admirable approach, but 40 feet right of the flagstick.

That gave Westwood the title.

"Winning is definitely a habit," said Westwood. "I got out of that habit, just getting into contention and not finishing it off. Hopefully, I'm back in that habit."

Molinari finished with a two-under 70 on Sunday. He started brilliantly with birdies at two and three, but the best start belonged to the eventual champion.

Westwood flew out of the gate with four consecutive birdies, including a pair of eight-footers at one and two. The fifth was a hole he birdied the three previous rounds, but on Sunday, settled for par.

"It was a great start," said Westwood. "I could've easily birdied five with the tee shot I hit."

Westwood was solid the rest of the way and walked into the winner's circle.

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington shot a five-under 67 and threw a little scare into the leaders. He bogeyed the last to take third at 19-under 269.

Peter Hanson (68) and Marcel Siem (67) shared fourth at minus-18.

Goosen never overcame a bogey at one. He shot a three-over 75 and tied for sixth place with Johan Edfors (68), Alexander Noren (62), Justin Rose (66), Charl Schwartzel (70) and Danny Willett (68). The group came in at 17-under 271.

10/18 13:33:21 ET

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