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Florence closes on world surfing title

AAP logoAAP 23/10/2016

John John Florence is close to securing a maiden world surfing title after reaching the quarter-finals of the Portugal event in Peniche.

The 24-year-old Hawaiian can wrap up the world crown with one event - his home Pipeline Masters - remaining after impressing in the barrelling 6-8 foot surf.

If he wins the Portugal final, Florence will claim the title, and he can also do so by losing the final to anyone other than South Africa's Jordy Smith.

Championship leader Florence advanced straight to the quarter-finals with a big win from Frenchman Michel Bourez and defending world champion Adriano de Souza of Brazil in his three-man fourth round heat.

Fourth-placed Smith clinched a last-minute win over Australian Stuart Kennedy and American rookie Conner Coffin to also progress straight to the quarters and keep his world title race alive.

Second-placed Gabriel Medina of Brazil was eliminated in a third-round defeat a day earlier while third-placed Matt Wilkinson of Australia severely dented his hopes when he went out in the second round.

Florence's previous best season was in 2014 when he was third overall.

This season he has won in Brazil, placed second at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa and Teahupo'o in Tahiti and was third in the last round France.

Young American Kolohe Andino dominated his round four heat against Australians Joel Parkinson and Julian Wilson to also reach the quarter-finals.

Parkinson was later eliminated by de Souza in round five while Wilson, the only Australian remaining in the event, was left to wait a day before his round-five clash with Bourez.

Brazil's Miguel Pupo was the other surfer to claim fast-track entry to the quarter-finals with a fourth round win, beating Frenchman Jeremy Flores and Hawaii's Sebastian Zietz.

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