Alemão wins at Royal Óbidos for second title of the season on the Challenge Tour
Marcel Schneider today became the first German to win the Open de Portugal, one of the oldest tournaments on the European professional circuit, and he needed an exciting final, with a putt monstrous to Eagle, to win by the minimum margin of one stroke the 59th edition of the Portuguese Golf Federation competition which, for the second year, took place at the Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort.
It is worth mentioning that at Royal Óbidos, on the field customized by the late Seve Ballesteros, 19 strokes below par is the mark of champions. It was with this result that Garrick Higgo triumphed in 2020, becoming the first South African to triumph at the Portuguese Open, and it was eaten in 269 strokes, 19 under par, that Marcel Schneider beat Frenchman Frédéric Lacroix.
The 31-year-old German had rounds of 68, 66, 65 and 70, pocketed 32 thousand euros, the main prize of the total 200 thousand euros that was at stake this week on the Challenge Tour, the second European division. Schneider won his second title of the year on this circuit, the third of his career, and jumped from 22nd to 10th in the Race to Mallorca, the Challenge Tour ranking in which Ricardo Melo Gouveia is no.
Ricardo Melo Gouveia proved he was right when, at the beginning of the tournament, he was a candidate for the title. Today he returned a card of 66 (-6) and obtained his best classification ever in the competition (4th place) and his best result ever in the tournament (-13). With laps of 72, 66, 71 and 66, the Quinta do Lago professional was tied with the Swedish Jens Dantorp and each child 11,000 euros.
Pedro Figueiredo failed to equal the top-20 of last year and finished the race in 30th, tied with three other players, with 282 strokes, 6 under par, after rounds of 70, 72, 68 and 72. He won 1,580 euros and confidently returns to the European Tour.
Miguel Gaspar also set a personal record for classification and result at the Open de Portugal, closing his performance in 62nd, with 290 (70 + 73 + 72 + 75), +2, pocketing 580 euros.
The fight for No. 1
Spaniard Santiago Tarrio (who didn’t come to Óbidos), Ricardo Melo Gouveia and German Marcel Schneider are the only ones who have won two titles this year on the Challenge Tour and are all fighting for the No.1 position at the end of the year. Tarrio is the current No.1. Everything must be decided at the Grand Final of the Rolex Challenge Tour, in November, in Mallorca, but the Portuguese shortened the distance from 35,000 to 24,000 points.
It was worth seeing the end of the tournament and luckily some public traveled to Óbidos, mainly to accompany Ricardo Melo Gouveia and Pedro Figueiredo, who played together, in the same group with a great star from the past, the Northern Irishman Michael Hoey, winner of the Open Portugal in 2009 and the Madeira Open in 2011.
Marcel Schneider, like Pedro Figueiredo, did a double-ghost on hole 2 and was passed at the top of the leaderboard by Spaniard Alejandro del Rey (72 + 64 + 66 + 71), who would finish 3rd (-15). Meanwhile, another candidate came forward, Frenchman Frédéric Lacroix (68 + 71 + 66 + 65). The Frenchman signed the best card of the last day and stayed at the clubhouse with -18 thinking he would either be champion or go to Pay.
Schneider arrived at the green from the last hole with -17. had a putt huge for eagle. The German told the Open Press Office it was 12 meters, the Challenge Tour press officer published 9 meters, the FPG president estimated it at 20. Never mind, it was a monster of putt. If he was a champion, if he needed two putts would go to Pay, if I did three putts would be runner-up. It’s worth seeing on Open’s social networks your reaction when a ball entered the hole. A party that goes on for minutes.
A year ago, Schneider had moved up to the European Tour (Europe’s first division) for finishing on the Challenge Tour in the top 5, but things didn’t go well for him on the main circuit after 14 tournaments played. He had two options: either insist on the European Tour and pray for great results, or go back to the Challenge Tour and try to finish the season in the top 20 to get the European Tour card back in 2022. He chose the second option and did well. It won in the Czech Republic in July, in Portugal in September, is in the top 10 of the ranking and has practically assured its maintenance on the main circuit in 2022.
As the president of the FPG, Miguel Franco de Sousa, told him when he handed him the award, “you only know how to win in Portugal”. In 2012, as an amateur, in the Algarve, in Monte Rei, he competed with Sir Michael Bonallack and Schneider contributed with 4 wins and only 1 loss to the European team’s triumph over its Asia-Pacific counterpart.
In 59 editions of the Open, this was the 50th player to be crowned champion and Germany was the 16th different country to win the oldest Portuguese professional tournament.
Marcel Schneider: “I’m still on the fence, I’m speechless, this means a lot. At the beginning of the year my priority was on the European tour, but I wasn’t doing well. With more opportunities on the Challenge Tour, I thought I would have a better chance of securing the European Tour card and I’m glad I did. (…) Before that putt I just thought I had a flight in a few hours and I would either put that putt on or I would miss the flight. It was a tough end to the race, but I managed my nerves well and had a bit of luck on the last hole. Having played on the European Tour helps, especially mentally, at times like this. I knew my game wasn’t as good as the days before, but I also knew the other guys when they got ahead would feel the pressure. ”
Ricardo Melo Gouveia: <3It was a great start. I was confident, I made a birdie on 2, then on 3 I had a bad decision on power plug to green and I did ghost, but a good ghost, I knew I had many opportunities. Today I already put two putts big guys (with a Eagle on hole 5) and I almost put another one on the 18. The celebration at the end was a mixture of two things: the fact that I had put the putt and of having done a good lap, but also the frustration of the less good laps, because without those laps I would be fighting for the title. But I’m happy, I’m on the right path, to have a positive season on the European Tour next year. Whenever we get one of the top 10, it’s a positive week. ”
Pedro Figueiredo: “It was worth coming, as much as possible, to play the Open. Playing at home is always special, especially playing with Ricardo today, it was a good day, so whenever I can, I’ll be here to help Portuguese golf. (…) Today I had a bad start, I went with 3 over Par at the end of four holes, it was difficult to row against the tide and I still managed to finish Par of the course, but obviously it wasn’t the lap I wanted to finish this Open from Portugal. Even so, on 17 I saved a good Par and ended up with a birdie on 18, it’s with these good feelings that I leave here. In a way I think I played well this week and that gives me confidence for the tournaments there. ”
Miguel Gaspar: “Over the last nine holes I’ve played the good golf I’ve been playing this week. The first nine were not that bad, but I had some bad luck on the 18. I leave with a good feeling, especially these last nine holes. I even told Pedro (Almeida, the caddy) that playing like this would hardly end the lap above Par. Unfortunately I didn’t convert the little birds, because I could have done 4 or 5 below (he did -1). (…) I played the last four Portugal Masters and never passed the cut. I feel I now have the game last two weeks for this. I still have an Alpes Tour tournament in Italy and if I play like this I have everything to go well and earn the points I need to be part of the chosen for the Portugal Masters. ”