Portuguese Santos cruises to Madeira Islands title



Madeira, Portugal (Sports Network) - Ricardo Santos, a native of Portugal, fired a nine-under 63 on Sunday to come from behind and win the Madeira Islands Open in record fashion.

Santos ended at 22-under par 266 to earn his first European Tour victory and set the tournament record, beating the previous mark by two strokes. His bogey-free final round featured nine birdies and allowed him to cruise to the victory.

Santos became the first Portuguese player to win a European Tour event in his home country.

"It was a sensational round -- definitely the best of my career," Santos said. "It was amazing to have the crowds here supporting me. It would be difficult to imagine a better win than this."

The 29-year-old birdied five holes on the back nine, including the final three. By the time that run was over, nobody else was particularly close to his score.

Magnus A. Carlsson shot a five-under 67 to take second, at 18-under 270. Andreas Harto also carded a 67 and finished alone in third at minus-17.

Carlos Del Moral, who had used a 63 to grab the third-round lead, stumbled to a 73 on Sunday and finished in a tie for fourth at 16-under.

Del Moral had built a three-shot cushion on Saturday, and birdied the second hole of his final round to reach minus-18. But Harto and Santos had more success early in their rounds to close the gap.

Harto, playing in the third-to-last group off the first tee, birdied three in a row from the second to climb up the leaderboard. He then birdied six, eight and nine to reach 18-under.

Santos was in the threesome just before the leaders, and birdied three, five, seven and eight to get to minus-17.

As they were rising, Del Moral fell apart just before he made the turn. The Spaniard bogeyed the eighth to leave Harto in the lead, and a triple-bogey at the ninth dropped him to 14-under.

Harto drained a seventh birdie at No. 11, but couldn't stay atop the leaderboard thanks to a stretch of three bogeys in four holes.

"There was a point where I saw a leaderboard and saw I was in front, and it's hard not to think about winning," said Harto. "I tried to put it out of my head and just concentrate on playing the next shot."

Despite his efforts, the Dane couldn't manage to avoid mistakes, and his struggles left the door open for Santos, who continued to have a hot putter.

Santos drained consecutive birdies from the 12th to take the lead at minus-19, then made another at 16. He sank a long birdie putt at the next hole, and Santos said that he knew then that the victory was his. But he came back with one final birdie to punctuate the win.

NOTES: Santos earned 112,500 euros for the victory...He had won once on the Challenge Tour last year...The previous tournament record was 268, set by James Morrison in 2010...Next week, the European Tour returns to Spain for the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Ian Poulter won the title last year by defeating Luke Donald, 2 & 1.

05/13 11:31:33 ET

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