Bjorn cruises to 5-shot win in Portugal|
Estoril, Portugal (Sports Network) - Denmark's Thomas Bjorn shot a four-under
68 and cruised to a five-stroke win Sunday at the Portugal Open, his first
European Tour victory in more than four years.
Bjorn made only three bogeys in 72 holes and finished with a 23-under 265 on
the Penha Longa course, picking up his first tour win since the 2006 Irish
Open -- a stretch of 49 months.
"It's been a long time coming," said the two-time European Ryder Cup player.
Australia's Richard Green climbed within one shot of Bjorn's lead after 13
holes, but was down by five strokes after 15. He carded a two-under 70 and
took second place by himself at 18-under 270.
Bjorn's fellow Dane, Mark F. Haastrup, shot a 67 and took third at 16-under
272, while England's Robert Rock (71) finished at 274 and Ireland's Damien
McGrane (73) ended at 275.
Bjorn made two birdies on the front nine and was holding Green at bay until
they reached the 13th hole, where Green made his fifth birdie of the day to
pull within a shot.
Suddenly, things didn't look so certain for the 39-year-old Dane. But just as
quickly as the momentum swung in Green's favor, it returned to Bjorn.
Green bogeyed the 14th, while Bjorn birdied the hole to stretch his lead to
Bjorn then knocked his tee shot at the par-three 15th within five feet,
setting up a birdie. Green hit into a bunker, making another bogey to fall
five strokes behind.
"Richard didn't seem to go away early on and 14 and 15 turned it in my favor,"
said Bjorn. "I hit some great shots at the right time."
With only three holes remaining, five strokes was more than enough for Bjorn.
He bogeyed the 16th, but finished with a flourish, nearly holing his approach
shot for eagle at the 18th.
Bjorn's tap-in birdie at the last gave him four straight rounds of 68 or
better -- and a much-needed win.
"I thought when I got here this morning with the conditions, if I shot
somewhere in the 60s I was going to be tough to beat," said Bjorn. "Early on
the golf course seemed quite simple to play, but I knew when we turned onto
the back nine it was going to be a different scenario."
It was the second week in a row that Bjorn finished in the top 10 after he
tied for ninth place at the Wales Open last Sunday. Prior to that finish, he
had missed six cuts in a row.
Bjorn, formerly a steady presence on tour, had dropped to 193rd in the world
rankings coming into this week. He was 78th in the Race to Dubai standings
and 67th on the Ryder Cup points list.
"I'm a long way out of the reckoning, but the way I played this week, if I can
keep that form over the summer and put in some good performances, well then
you never know," Bjorn said about making the 2010 Ryder Cup team.
"The important thing for me was to play four good rounds in a row and get into
the summer with a bit of confidence," said Bjorn.
"I'm not among the top players in Europe, so at the moment it's about Thomas
NOTES: Two tournaments next week count toward the European Tour: the U.S.
Open, which was won by Lucas Glover last year, and the Saint-Omer Open, where
Christian Nilsson captured the win last season.
06/13 15:52:47 ET