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Sunday’s golf: Ortiz holds off Johnson, Matsuyama for 1st PGA Tour victory

Associated Press

Houston — Carlos Ortiz never doubted he could win any tournament no matter who he was facing, even if he didn’t have the trophies or the pedigree to prove it.

Now he does.

Ortiz holed two long birdie putts from off the green to take the lead, then was rock solid down the stretch and delivered the winning shots for a 5-under 65 and a two-shot victory in the Houston Open.

Carlos Ortiz acknowledges the gallery Sunday after winning the Houston Open golf tournament in Houston.

Ortiz played the final round alongside a former No. 1 player in Jason Day. He spent the back nine locked in a battle with the current No. 1, Dustin Johnson.

He pulled ahead for good with a 6-iron so good the 29-year-old Mexican started walking after it on the par-5 16th. Ortiz had to settle for a two-putt birdie from 8 feet and he finished in style with a 20-foot birdie for a two-shot victory over Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the other guys. I wasn’t worried,” Ortiz said. “I knew if I played good I was going to be hard to beat. … I knew I was capable of doing that because I know myself, but obviously validating that and then showing it, it definitely gets me more confidence. I’m just happy the way it played out.”

Ortiz, a three-time winner on what was then the Web.com Tour in 2014, became the first Mexican to win on the PGA Tour since Victor Regalado in 1978 at the Quad Cities Open.

Ortiz held back tears as he waited for his playing partners to putt. The victory sends him to the Masters next April. He was there a year ago to watch his brother, Alvaro, who qualified by winning the Latin American Amateur.

“It feels awesome,” said Ortiz, who grew up in Guadalajara and played at North Texas with Sebastian Munoz of Colombia, the most recent Latin American winner on tour. “This is like my second home. There was a bunch of people cheering for me, Latinos and Texans. I’m thankful for all of them.”

It was the loudest cheer for a winner since March. The Houston Open was the first domestic PGA Tour event that allowed spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2,000 tickets sold daily. They were treated to a good show.

Johnson was making his first start since the U.S. Open after a positive coronavirus test knocked him out of the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and the Zozo Championship at Sherwood.

After opening with a 72, Johnson rallied with two rounds of 66 and a closing 65. His one regret would be the 16th hole. Tied for the lead, Johnson fanned a 7-iron for his second shot on the par 5, leaving a tough chip to 18 feet and a birdie putt that grazed the left edge of the cup.

Johnson had another birdie putt catch the lip on the next hole.

Matsuyama briefly tied for the lead with birdies on the 16th and 17th, making a 15-footer on the 17th just moments before Ortiz made his birdie on the 16th. He narrowly missed a shot at a third straight birdie on the 18th and shot 63.

Ortiz finished at 13-under 267.

Sam Burns, the 54-hole leader, had a 72 and Day closed with a 71. Neither was a factor for much of the day. This was about Ortiz holding off two players with plenty of experience winning and tasting it for the first time.

Brooks Koepka, who consulted on the redo of Memorial Park, had a 65-65 weekend and tied for fifth in his final start before the Masters. It also bodes well for Johnson, who goes into Augusta National as the No. 1 player in the world for the third time in the last four years.

Johnson has not finished outside the top six in his last six tournaments. That includes two victories and two runner-up finishes.

Tour Champions

The PGA Tour Champions season will last at least another day.

The final round of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship will be played on Monday after Kevin Sutherland and Paul Broadhurst traded pars through six playoff holes in near darkness.

Broadhurst played a superb final round on Sunday, erasing a six-shot deficit with a bogey-free 63 in the season finale for the over-50 tour, which won’t crown a champion until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sutherland stumbled through the early part of the round to lose an overnight five-shot lead over Wes Short Jr., but closed with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to shoot a 2-under 69.

Broadhurst and Sutherland finished at 15-under 198.

European Tour

Robert MacIntyre of Scotland was inches away from a hole-in-one and followed with a two-putt birdie for a 7-under 64 to win the Cyprus Showdown on Sunday for his first European Tour title.

MacIntyre birdied four of his last six holes at Aphrodite Hills Resort to beat Masahiro Kawamura by one shot.

The format cut the field to 32 players on the weekend, and then the top 16 and ties going into the final round, with scores reset for the final two rounds.

Jorge Campillo of Spain was another shot behind.

MacIntyre was tied for the lead when the left-handed Scot delivered a pure swing on the par-3 17th, the ball stopping next to the cup. Kawamura birdied the 18th ahead of him to tie for the lead one last time before MacIntyre drilled his tee shot and set up a solid approach into the par-5 closing hole.