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Friday, 19 March 2010

Steve Webster claimed his second European Tour title in emotional fashion when a superb final round 64 for a 25 under par total of 263 saw the 32 year old Englishman win the Portugal Masters.

Webster’s last success was over two years ago in the 2005 Telecom Italia Open and when his second win came under glorious skies at Oceanico Victoria Golf Club, he achieved it in equally glorious style, before collapsing in tears in the arms of his caddie John Mulrooney.

When he embraced his father Terry at greenside, the emotions became even rawer and totally understandable as it had only been five months ago when his wife, Steve’s beloved mother Valerie, passed away.

"I was thinking about her all the way round," said Webster. "Losing my mum really knocked me about. I didn't even think I'd get my card because it was quite tough.

"It was so hard to keep my mind on my golf. I knew she was watching out for me and it's an amazing feeling to play that well down the stretch."

Play well he did and he needed to for all the leading contenders were making great strides in the ideal conditions. Nearest challenger in the end was Sweden’s Robert Karlsson who finished second on 23 under par 265.

Although the Ryder Cup player carded an excellent 65 of his own, he admitted he was always playing second fiddle to his playing partner and was generous in his praise of the eventual champion.

“It was a good effort by me but I was beaten by a better player so there is not much to say,” said Karlsson. “I played a good round of golf but Steve just played fantastically and he deserved to win. I have no complaints whatsoever. He just kept making birdies when I got close to him but he definitely deserved to win.

“He played so well around the turn, birdied the ninth and eagled the 12th and birdied the 13th. He needed to miss something but he never did for me to get close. But he is a worthy winner and especially after what he has gone through this year, it is great to see.”

Webster, who finished two ahead of Karlsson and in the end six shots clear of the four players in a a share of third place – the Swedish duo of Fredrik Andersson Hed and Peter Hanson, England’s Lee Westwood and Argentina’s Daniel Vancsik - did not drop a stroke on the final day until the tournament was in the bag at the last.

One behind Vancsik at the start of the day, Webster went into the joint lead with an outward 32, then took command with a nine foot eagle putt on the 547 yard 12th.

Adding three more birdies in the next five holes gave him the chance to equal the second lowest total in relation to par in Tour history.

But instead of trying for another birdie on the 18th he wisely chose to avoid the water down the left, knowing a bogey would be good enough for a title that meant so much. His 64 was still the lowest closing round by a winner all year.

Perhaps the most disappointed of the quartet in third place was Vancsik who, for the second week running, took the lead into the final round of a European Tour event but, as with last week’s Open de Madrid Valle Romano, again he came up short.

In Spain, the problem was a catastrophic quintuple bogey nine on the fifth hole of the final round, in Portugal it was two trips into the water on the two par fives on the back nine – the 12th and the 17th – which cost him a bogey six on each occasion.

Elsewhere, Justin Rose slipped from 18th at the start of the day to joint 21st with a closing 70 - and so not only failed to achieve the top two finish he required to go above Ernie Els at the top of the Order of Merit, but also did not quite do enough to overtake Padraig Harrington in second place.

The importance of that is; with Els not playing in the season-ending Volvo Masters the week after next the pair will both go there needing to finish in a two-way tie for third spot at worst to overtake Els, but Rose will have to beat Harrington as well, rather than the other way round.

In reality five players – Els, Harrington, Rose and Swedes Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson – can still win the Harry Vardon Trophy. It promises to be an exciting week at Club de Golf Valderrama.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WEBSTER, SteveENG18-25
2KARLSSON, RobertSWE18-23
T3HANSON, PeterSWE18-19
T3ANDERSSON HED, FredrikSWE18-19
T3VANCSIK, DanielARG18-19
T3WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-19
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