Golf: Gilford gives his Cup chances extra lift: Birdie putt captures Portuguese Open in play-off

Click to follow
DAVID GILFORD became Europe's leading money-winner this season when a play-off birdie gave him the Portuguese Open title at Vila Sol yesterday.

The softly-spoken Ryder Cup player from Crewe denied Argentina's Jorge Berendt by sinking an eight-foot putt on the first extra hole after the pair had tied on the 13-under-par total of 275. In a testing wind Gilford had a closing 74 and Berendt 72.

It was Gilford's second win in five weeks and the seventh by an English player in nine tour events this year.

The part-time cattle farmer went from two ahead to one behind when he bogeyed the 14th and 15th, but Berendt, a former caddie who had never finished better than fourth on the European Tour before, missed the green at the 378-yard next and had to make an eight-foot putt on the last to force the play-off. He almost holed again from 25 feet when they came back to the same hole, but then Gilford, having played the much better approach, seized the pounds 41,660 winner's cheque.

'I've had a fantastic start to the season,' Gilford said. 'I wrote down my goals for 1993 as one win and eight top 10 finishes, but I've had already had two wins and I've not been out of the top 10 in six starts.'

His total winnings now stand at pounds 132,727 and he has moved into eighth place in the race for places in the Ryder Cup team.

Gilford made his cup debut at Kiawah Island two years ago, but suffered two heavy foursomes losses and then, with American Steve Pate injured, was dropped from the singles.

'I'd forgotten that within a couple of weeks,' the 27-year-old added. 'It was very disappointing and it was also hard for Bernard Gallacher. He had to drop somebody. I would like to play again this September - with 162,000 points I'm about half- way there.'

Gilford was twice overtaken by Berendt after going into the final round two ahead. His worst moment came at the 421-yard third where he pulled his drive into a dry ditch and then, in trying to hack the ball out, moved it only a yard. A double-bogey six resulted.

Joint third on 11 under par were Mark James, who needed to finish second to retain the No 1 position in the money list, Gordon J Brand and the New Zealander Frank Nobilo.