Stunning burst of seven birdies sees Ortiz storm to imperious victory at International Series Oman

Sports Sunday 25/February/2024 19:49 PM
By: Times News Service
Stunning burst of seven birdies sees Ortiz storm to imperious victory at International Series Oman

Al Mouj: Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz upstaged Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann to record a convincing victory in the US$2million International Series Oman today – the first of this year’s events on The International Series.

Ortiz, joint leader at the start of the day with Oosthuizen, and with a host of big-name players breathing down his neck, showed no fear and shot a seven-under-par 65 to top the leaderboard on 19-under.

He beat one of the pre-event favourites Oosthuizen by four, after the South African carded a 69 at Al Mouj Golf, here on the magical Muscat coastline, when the wind was up.

Niemann fired a 67 to take third place outright, one stroke further back, in the Asian Tour’s second event of the season.

Ortiz brilliantly broke away from the pack with seven birdies in nine holes, starting from the sixth. At the turn he had a two-shot lead thanks to birdies on six, seven and nine and left the field trailing in his wake with an eye-catching one-man show making birdies on 10, 11, 13 and 14.

He was able to stroll down the 18th with a four-shot lead over Oosthuizen.

Incredibly, Ortiz started the week with a double bogey on his opening hole on Thursday but after that he did not drop a stroke over the next 71 holes.

“With the way the wind was, I had to hold on for the first five holes,” said the 32-year-old Mexican – the former Fireballs GC player on the LIV Golf League who now plays for Torque GC, who are captained by Niemann.

“After that it was more downwind, so this is how this course plays and you have to take advantage of it. The wind then kind of calmed down and I attacked the pins, and I made some good putts.

“I hope this is the start of a great year. It means so much to win an event on The International Series. I would like to play in Majors this year and win on the LIV Golf League.”

Today’s win marks his first success on a main Tour since he claimed the Houston Open on the PGA Tour in 2020. It will also make up for losing in a sudden-death play-off for the individual title at last year’s LIV Golf Tucson. That performance did however help the Fireballs GC win the team title, one of two in 2023.

He becomes only the third Mexican winner on the Asian Tour. Carlos Espinosa was the first at the 1995 Canlubang Classic in the Philippines, while Abraham Ancer, also playing this week, was the next, a mere 28 years later, at last year’s star-studded season-opening PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers.

He (Ortiz) definitely turned the burners on starting the sixth hole,” said 2010 Open champion Oosthuizen.

“You need to do that if you want to win an event. I didn’t really hit it close enough and when I was close enough I couldn’t make the putts. I had a solid round, played nicely but not good enough. I love the golf course. I am definitely coming back here.”

Said Niemann: “I knew I needed to play good today, obviously it was tricky with the wind. I didn’t think Carlos (Ortiz) was gonna go that low today. I gave myself a lot of chances on the back nine, but I didn’t make birdies. I fought hard, and it was a lot of fun. I would have loved to have been in that group fighting with Carlos. This is good preparation for the next two weeks on LIV.”

Mito Pereira from Chile, also on team Torque GC, tied for fourth six behind the winner following a 66, along with Australian Maverick Antcliff, who fired a 65.

Japan’s Takumi Kanaya defended his title well, closing with a 68 to take a share of seventh, on 11 under.

Last week’s winner of the Malaysian Open, Spain’s David Puig, tied for 10th after a 68.
The Asian Tour travels to the Southern Hemisphere next week for the 103rd New Zealand Open presented by Sky Sport. The NZ$2million (approximately US$1.24million) event is being played on the Coronet and Remarkables Course at the Millbrook Resort, in Queenstown from 29th February to the 3rd March . Australia’s Brendan Jones is the defending champion.

HH Sayyid Malik Bin Shihab Bin Tariq Al Said presenting the trophy for the Champion

His Highness Sayyid Malik Bin Shihab Bin Tariq Al Said presented Carlos Ortiz with the International Series Oman trophy after the Mexican wrapped up victory with a sizzling seven-under round of 65 at the stunning Al Mouj Golf course.

Ortiz, a member of the Torque GC team on the LIV Golf League, was joint overnight leader with 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen on -12 going into the final day.

But an incredible run of seven birdies in nine holes from six took the 32-year-old to 19-under in total, for a four-shot victory. It was an eye-catching one-man show from the Mexican, whose only dropped shot over the tournament was a double on his opening hole on day one.
South Africa’s Oosthuizen, a Stinger GC golfer, finished solo runner up on -15 after a three-under round of under 69.

Ortiz’s Torque GC captain Joaquin Niemann capped off a fine week with a five-under 67 which left the Chilean on -14, one ahead of Maverick Antcliff after the Australian carded a seven-under 65, and another Torque GC team member Mito Pereira from Chile, in with a 66.