Maiden win for Bjerregaard as Harrington and Lowry finish in the pack

Maiden win for Bjerregaard as Harrington and Lowry finish in the pack
 Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark celebrates victory with the trophy during day four of the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Club on September 24, 2017 in Albufeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark celebrates victory with the trophy during day four of the Portugal Masters at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Club on September 24, 2017 in Albufeira, Portugal.  (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington finished in the pack but Irish eyes were still smiling as Lucas Bjerregaard claimed an impressive maiden victory in the Portugal Masters on the Algarve.

The Dane (26) picked up €333,330 after he closed with an impressive six-under-par 65 to win by four strokes from Scotland’s Marc Warren on 20-under par, securing his tour card and a juicy percentage for his Irish caddie, Brian Martin. 

Just three strokes off the pace at halfway following a second round 64, Lowry had something of a lost weekend at Dom Pedro Victoria Course in Vilamoura, as he remained on nine under following rounds of 70 and 72 to finish 11 strokes behind the winner in a share of 28th.

Defending champion Harrington finished one shot better in a tie for 25th on 10-under thanks to two-under 69 yesterday.

Despite all that, both men will have seen plenty of positives in their games as the European Tour season comes to a climax.  

While Harrington now has a week off, Lowry joins Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Paul Dunne in this week’s £3m British Masters at Close House near Newcastle knowing his game is in decent shape after a recent four-week break.

He will still have hoped for more at the course where he won his maiden professional title in 2012, having gong into the final round just four shots off the pace.

But while he birdied the fifth to get within three strokes of Bjerregaard on 11-under-par, he bogeyed the ninth for the third time in four days, then came home in a one-over 37 with a lone birdie at the 14th cancelled out by bogeys at the 11th and 18th.

Lowry remains outside the top 60 in the rankings who will contest the season-ending DP World Tour Championship though he moved up from 86th to 78th thanks to his cheque for €17,200.

But that's no longer a worry for Bjerregaard, who was a  tenuous 114th in the Race to Dubai starting the week with only the top 100 set to keep their playing rights at the end of the season.

Now ranked 47th and exempt until the end of 2019, he said: “I have been out here for four years now and to be honest, you start to doubt that it is ever going to happen because you know you have got to have a week where it all comes together. Luckily this was the week for me. 

"It has been tough. I have had a couple of chances before and not taken advantage of them so to come out on top now is really nice."

Just one stroke ahead of South Africa's George Coetzee starting the final day, Bjerregaard birdied four of his first eight holes to surge clear.

In the end, he made eight birdies and two bogeys in his six-under 65, and showed no signs of nerves.

“I felt pretty confident," he said. "My girlfriend asked me this morning if I was nervous and I said ‘no, don’t worry I’ve got this’, probably more to calm her down than anything.

“I’ve been in this position a couple of times before so to finally come through and get my first win feels really good."

Warren, who came into the week even further back at 173rd on the Race to Dubai Rankings, boosted his chances of retaining his card with a closing 67, aided by an eagle on the 17th.

He finished in outright second place, moving to 100th in the Race to Dubai, after Coetzee found water at the last and ran up a triple bogey.

Storm and fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell tied for third on 15 under par, with home favourites Ricardo Gouveia and José-Filipe Lima a shot further back.

Marc Warren

“I didn't look at the leaderboard. I knew the middle of the back nine Lucas was a few in front, so I was just trying to finish as best as I could. You know, trying not to go chasing it, stay patient. 

“I knew going out today that I obviously needed a good round. You know, you’re in contention and conditions were favourable again. The wind was a little bit less than yesterday. Greens seemed a little bit softer, as well, which helps approach shots. 

“It's just nice to be pretty much 100 percent fit again. Driving the ball as well as I have done, if I keep the driving stats up, the short game is pretty good, I think we can have a good, strong finish to the season.”

Eddie Pepperell

“I played steady. I had my chances. I stuck to my game plan. If I had holed a couple of putts, I easily could have shot five under par and ended up finishing second. 

“It’s a good week, another good week. I'm playing well. There are hardly any negatives to be quite honest with you and a lot of positives.

“I actually had a kind of a similar round last week in Holland. I was getting a bit frustrated.

Portugal Masters, Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course (Par 71)

264 L Bjerregaard  (Den) 66 65 68 65, 

268 M Warren (Sco) 67 64 70 67, 

269 G Storm  (Eng) 67 66 69 67, E Pepperell (Eng) 66 67 68 68, 

270 J Lima  (Por) 69 66 68 67, R Gouveia (Por) 69 67 69 65, 

271 S Soderberg (Swe) 68 71 64 68, D Burmester (RSA) 66 67 72 66, A Wu (Chn) 65 70 67 69, N Elvira  (Esp) 66 68 68 69, G Coetzee (RSA) 64 69 67 71, 

272 N Bertasio (Ita) 65 65 71 71, V Dubuisson  (Fra) 68 68 69 67, J Stalter (Fra) 70 67 68 67, J Luiten (Ned) 64 68 70 70, P Khongwatmai (Tha) 69 68 66 69, C Paisley  (Eng) 70 65 67 70, N Colsaerts  (Bel) 69 70 64 69, C Syme  (Sco) 68 69 68 67, 

273 T Detry  (Bel) 69 65 68 71, R Sterne  (RSA) 66 70 70 67, D Lingmerth (Swe) 67 69 70 67, S Jamieson  (Sco) 68 68 69 68, M Armitage (Eng) 71 66 68 68, 

274 M Siem  (Ger) 70 66 68 70, P Harrington (Irl) 67 67 71 69, H Li  (Chn) 70 69 69 66, J Thomson  (Eng) 69 67 68 70, 

275 J Campillo (Esp) 67 71 68 69, S Lowry  (Irl) 69 64 70 72, A Knappe (Ger) 68 68 69 70, J Scrivener (Aus) 65 67 73 70, D Perrier (Fra) 68 70 72 65, 

276 T Olesen (Den) 69 69 71 67, P Lawrie (Sco) 69 69 71 67, W Ormsby (Aus) 70 68 69 69, S Heisele (Ger) 72 66 66 72, R Knox (Sco) 69 69 67 71, 

277 E De La Riva  (Esp) 69 67 70 71, P Waring  (Eng) 73 66 71 67, T Lewis (Eng) 69 70 69 69, G Havret  (Fra) 65 72 71 69, M Pavon (Fra) 70 68 70 69, R Langasque  (Fra) 71 67 69 70, M Wallace (Eng) 69 68 69 71, 

278 M Korhonen (Fin) 72 65 74 67, T Aiken (RSA) 73 63 70 72, M Jonzon (Swe) 66 71 74 67, C Shinkwin (Eng) 65 73 72 68, B Dredge (Wal) 68 70 70 70, R Echenique (Arg) 71 66 71 70, 

279 T Sinnott (Aus) 71 67 73 68, A Karlsson  (Swe) 69 70 71 69, A Hansen (Den) 67 70 71 71, J Winther (Den) 69 68 71 71, B Evans  (Eng) 69 70 67 73, A Rai (Eng) 69 69 72 69, A Chesters  (Eng) 67 71 68 73, 

280 A Cañizares  (Esp) 66 69 74 71, S Webster (Eng) 70 69 69 72, S Horsfield (Eng) 71 67 73 69, 

281 A Quiros  (Esp) 68 67 77 69, G Stal  (Fra) 74 64 72 71, O Fisher  (Eng) 67 71 74 69, 

282 D Dixon (Eng) 70 66 74 72, L Slattery (Eng) 69 69 76 68, J Rutherford (Eng) 69 70 70 73, 

283 F Aguilar (Chi) 69 68 68 78, D Willett  (Eng) 71 65 75 72, R Kakko  (Fin) 70 69 70 74, L Canter (Eng) 66 70 75 72, 

284 N Kimsey (Eng) 73 65 73 73, 

285 D Brooks (Eng) 70 69 74 72, 

286 T Pieters  (Bel) 69 70 73 74, 

287 J Edfors (Swe) 71 68 72 76