Porsche European Open
Marcus 'The Bullet' Armitage breaks through for first European Tour win at Porsche European Open
Already something of a legend on the European Tour, Marcus “The Bullet” Armitage is now a winner, too. Adding to his touching and sometimes troubling backstory and high-profile social-media presence, the 33-year-old Englishman claimed the Porsche European Open with a final-round 65 over the challenging Green Eagle course just outside Hamburg, Germany.
With six birdies and an eagle, Armitage posted the best score by three shots in the final round in the 54-hole event abbreviated and pushed back to a Monday finish due to COVID-19 protocols delaying entry of several players and caddies into Germany. And his scorecard could have been even better. Despite a stuttering one-over-par finish over the notorious closing four-hole stretch that contains three par 5s and many water hazards, his 54-hole aggregate of 208 eventually proved to be two shots better than anyone else could manage.
A cosmopolitan quartet tied for second place—Italy's Edoardo Molinari, Belgium's Thomas Detry and the Netherlands' Darius Van Driel three of the four. But the man who came closest to catching the eventual champion was Matthew Southgate. Seven under par standing on the par-5 18th tee and needing a birdie to tie, the Englishman pulled his drive into the water left of the fairway en route to an anti-climactic bogey 6.
In contrast, Armitage was a mixture of high emotion and typical joviality in the immediate aftermath of his maiden European Tour win. Two months on from setting an unlikely world record for the longest drive—303 yards—hit into a speeding racing car, he fulfilled a lifetime ambition in tribute to his late mother, who passed away in 2001, when he was just 13. Given that, the hour-long wait between holing out on the 18th green and having victory confirmed was easily endured.
“It’s hard to describe what happiness is,” said Armitage through tears. “When you’ve worked so hard at something and you feel like I feel now, I think that’s the closest you can get to happiness in a sport that you play or the field you do for a living. It hasn't really sunk in yet, it's a new feeling I suppose. When I had a practice round the other day I've never lost so many balls in my life. So to be stood here being Porsche European Open champion is pretty cool. I'm an emotional guy; I’m struggling to keep a lid on it here. I was just trying to breathe and be calm.
“Twenty years ago I lost my mum, and I've dreamt about this since that day, being a winner,” he continued. “You have days where you think it might not happen, but I just stuck at it. Today is a great day, and I'm sure she would be proud, and everybody in my team that's helped me—this one's for me. After all those days on my own dealing with life [as a teenager he fought drug addiction] and all those lonely days on my own working on my dream, I think I've got to take a lot of credit for this myself.”
Still, Armitage’s fellow European Tour pro, Robert Rock, also deserves a mention. Hearing that his compatriot didn’t have the cash to fund a trip to the 2020 South African Open, Rock paid Armitage’s way. One week later, courtesy of a third-place finish and a check for €82,603, the lad who famously asked Tiger Woods for an autograph as the pair hit balls on the range prior to the 2017 Dubai Desert Classic, was off and running. Indeed, as a result of that now 18-month-old finish, Armitage will play in next month’s Open Championship at Royal St. George’s Golf Club.
Amidst all the smiles from the European Tour’s newest champion, there was some consolation for Southgate, Molinari and Detry. Along with Richard Bland, Guido Migliozzi, Armitage, Mikko Korhonen, Jordan Smith, Adrian Meronk and Dave Coupland, all three qualified for the upcoming U.S. Open at Torrey Pines through a mini “order of merit” covering this event, the Made in Himmerland and the British Masters.