Uihlein, son of Titleist CEO, wins Madeira Islands Open, first pro title

Peter Uihlein at the Madeira Islands Open
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Peter Uihlein, the son of Titleist chief Wally Uihlein, won the Madeira Islands Open in only his 16th start on the European Tour.
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Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, May 19, 2013 | 3:26 p.m.

SANTO ANTONIO DA SERRA, Portugal -- Peter Uihlein of the United States won the Madeira Islands Open by two strokes after shooting a 4-under 68 on Sunday for his first career title in his 16th European Tour event.

Uihlein, the son of Titleist chief Wally Uihlein, birdied four of his last eight holes for a 15-under total of 273 at the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra course. It was his third top-10 finish in seven European Tour events this season.

''I'm just thrilled,'' Uihlein said. ''To do it playing well on the back nine, coming down the stretch, is sweet. It was all putting that did it today. I was just trying to free up and they started to roll in.''

Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark blew his chances by hitting a double bogey on the 18th for a 67 to finish tied for second with Mark Tullo of Chile (71). Tullo started the final round as the overnight leader and got off to a good start by making a hole-in-one on No. 4, but he ended with four bogeys.

Craig Lee of Scotland (71) finished three shots behind Uihlein.

Having started the day one shot off overnight leader Tullo, Uihlein got off to a bad start as he bogeyed the first, but he atoned for that blemish with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth.

The 2010 U.S. Amateur champion and former Oklahoma State star, could only watch, though, as Tullo found the cup with an 8-iron tee shot from 201 yards at the par-3 fourth.

After picking up another shot at the seventh, Uihlein was knocked back again with two consecutive bogeys just before the turn. But he came out fighting on the way back with four birdies, including three in a row from the 11th, which left him two shots clear on 15 under par.

The tournament might well have been decided by a playoff as Madsen was 15 under on the 18th tee after a stunning run that yielded eight birdies. But the 25-year-old suffered a double bogey on the last hole.

“I hit some good putts coming down the stretch,” said Uihlein. “When I was at the 17th I saw Morten was on 15 under and I thought it might have been a little more difficult, but when I got to the 18th green I obviously saw he had dropped back. I’m just delighted to have won.”

Uihlein admitted that his decision to begin his professional career on the European Challenge Tour and European Tour, on the advice of his father, was one of the best he ever made, believing he has developed both as a player and a as a man in Europe.

“A year ago I wasn’t even thinking about playing, I was just really struggling,” he said. “It’s a funny game. But I've learned a lot over the last year.   When you’re struggling, it’s one of those things, you hate it when it happens but it’s almost the best thing that could happen to you. It definitely was for me and I'm pretty happy with how things turned out.

“You grow up quick out here and that was the main reason I came over,” he added. “It’s been a good process so far and hopefully I can keep going.”

Tullo, meanwhile, was disappointed not have emerged victorious on the day he carded a 13th career ace, but the 35-year-old is happy with his game after a second top-5 finish on the European Tour this season.

“It was a very positive week,” said the Santiago native. “I could have won this tournament. I had three bogeys from 100 yards today which hurt a lot, but hats off to Peter. He played really on the back nine and that’s what you need to do to win tournaments.”