Brilliant Björn wins in Portugal

6/13/2010 5:51:02 PM
Manuel Agrellos and Thomas Bjorn   (Getty Images)
Manuel Agrellos and Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)

Thomas Björn returned to winning ways in fine style with a comprehensive five shot victory at the Estoril Open de Portugal.

The Dane saw off a fine challenge from Richard Green with a closing 68 for a 23 under par aggregate total of 265.

Australian left-hander Green had nibbled away at the two-time Ryder Cup winner's three shot overnight lead from the outset.

He got within one before a decisive swing in Bjorn's direction at the 14th and 15th gave the 39 year old his tenth European Tour title and first for more than four years.

Former Dubai Desert Classic winner Green bogeyed the par four 14th as his playing partner birdied and when Björn's tee shot went within five feet at the par three next the motor sport enthusiast could only respond by hitting his into a bunker and dropping another shot.

That saw Björn, whose last Ryder Cup Cap came in the famous victory at The Belfry in 2002, pull five clear and although he bogeyed the 16th he managed to avoid a nervous finish.

It caps an incredible return to form over the last ten days - when he arrived at The Celtic Manor Wales Open last week Björn had missed six successive cuts on The European Tour and was outside the top 200 on The Official World Golf Ranking.

But a top ten finish in Newport gave him the confidence to book an Open Championship spot at Sunningdale on Monday and he adds a winner's cheque for €166,660 with his success at Penha Longa Golf club, climbing into the top 40 on The Race to Dubai as a result.

“It was certainly nice to win again,” admitted Björn. “Today had its ups and downs, but I pulled it off when I needed to and closed out the tournament quite well in the end.

“I had a lot of chances to keep the chasing pack behind me, but I was probably a little bit more nervous than I might’ve been in the past.”

Green closed with a 70 to finish 18 under for the week, with Dane Mark F Haastrup third on 16 under following a 67 - the best European Tour finish of his career.

"It was amazing. I played really well and made some really good decisions," said Haastrup.

Björn's round was all the more remarkable considering that the Estoril course was made much tougher by strong swirling breezes.

“The conditions were very tough, so if it started going wrong, it can go very wrong,” added Björn. “But I was very determined not to let anything get in my way today, and even when I missed some short putts I kept battling away.

“I knew that if I didn’t make any mistakes over the closing holes I’d have a great chance of winning, and that’s how it proved.

“It was very tough, because a lot of your approach shots are to elevated greens, so it’s difficult to know how the wind will react in the wind. So even wedge shots became very difficult, it was a tough day on the course, but I had a game plan to shoot something in the 60s, and I knew that if I managed to do that in those conditions, I’d be very tough to beat.”