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Uihlein Gets First Win in Europe
Instead of trying to find a spot on the PGA Tour after turning pro, Peter Uihlein decided to try his hand in Europe. On Sunday, in only his 16th start on the European Tour, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion nailed down his first victory on the continent.
The 23-year-old from New Bedford, Mass., who enjoyed a storied amateur career as an All-American at Oklahoma State, fired four birdies over his last eight holes Sunday for a closing 4-under 68 to win the Madeira Islands Open. He finished at 15-under 273, edging Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark and Mark Tullo of Chile by two strokes.
"I'm just thrilled," Uihlein told reporters. "To do it playing well on the back nine, coming down the stretch, is sweet . . . I just knuckled down I guess. It was all putting that did it today, I was just trying to free up and they started to roll in so it was nice."
The victory earned Uihlein a European Tour exemption through 2014 and made him eligible to play in this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. He'll also be seeking some sponsor's exemptions on the PGA Tour later this summer.
"You grow up quick out here and that was the main reason I came over," said Uihlein, whose father, Wally Uihlein, is the chief executive officer of the Acushnet golf company. "It's been a good process so far and hopefully I can keep going."
Uihlein knew he'd learn a lot playing the different courses on the European circuit. "Look at all the guys who started over here. It's just different being an American and doing it."
His swing coach, Butch Harmon, agreed the experience overseas has been valuable for his student. "I really believe a young guy who comes out has it too easy on the U.S. Tour," said Harmon, who runs the Butch Harmon School in Henderson, Nev.
"To go and play on the European Tour where the weather is bad, the courses different and the travel difficult, you become a better, well-rounded player in the long run."