Stunning burst of seven birdies sees Ortiz storm to victory

Stunning burst of seven birdies sees Ortiz storm to victory

Carlos Ortiz poses with the winner's trophy. (Photo: Asian Tour)
Carlos Ortiz poses with the winner's trophy. (Photo: Asian Tour)

Muscat: Mexico's Carlos Ortiz upstaged Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann to record a convincing victory in the US$2million International Series Oman on Sunday -- the first of this year's International Series events.

Ortiz, joint leader at the start of 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 International Series event. I would like to play in Majors this year and win on the LIV Golf League."

Sunday'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 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.

Mito Pereira from Chile, also on 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.

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