The Open de Portugal will be contested this week for the first time since 2010. The tournament provides a chance for European and Challenge Tour players to make inroads and gain an exemption to the end of 2018.

The Open de Portugal returns to the European Tour schedule this week for the first time since Thomas Bjorn won at Penha Longa seven years ago. The event will be contested at Morgado Golf & Country Club in Portimao at the western end of the Algarve.

A dual ranking event, points will count from the Open de Portugal for both the European and the European Challenge Tours and the winner of the tournament will gain an exemption on the European Tour to the end of 2018.

Although there may be a lower prize fund in this event and, as it’s being held in the same week as The Players on the PGA Tour, there are some interesting names on the start sheet in Portugal.

1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie is playing, so too is 2003 Masters winner Mike Weir. The home nation will be well represented with Ricardo Gouveia keen to gain a win on Portuguese soil. England’s Tom Lewis will be looking for another big result in Portugal – he won the Portugal Masters of 2011. Other notable players from the home nations on the tee sheet include Englishmen Robert Rock and Oliver Fisher, Craig Lee and David Drysdale of Scotland and Stuart Manley of Wales.

Paul Lawrie on playing the chip and run shot:

The Open de Portugal, previously Portuguese Open, was first contested in 1953 and was fixture on the European Tour from the circuit’s inception in 1972. Past winners of the event include Peter Alliss, Brian Barnes, Sam Torrance and Colin Montgomerie. The last time it was held on the European Tour was 2010 when Thomas Bjorn was the winner.

The course at Morgado was designed by Russell Talley of European Golf Design and it opened for play in 2003. With the Monchique Mountains as a striking backdrop, it’s an attractive layout that blends the playing characteristics of a links and a parkland course.
The weather forecast looks unsettled for the first couple of days of the tournament. There could be some thundery showers and perhaps a disruption to play. The weekend looks clear.

Venue: Morgado G&CC, Portimao, Portugal
Date: May 11-14
Course stats: par 73, 6,998 yards
Purse: €500,000
Defending Champion: Thomas Bjorn (event last held in 2010, Bjorn isn’t playing this week.)

Player watch:

Ricardo Gouveia – The Portuguese star has been playing solidly in recent European Tour events, picking up some €70,000 in his last three events. He’ll be inspired by the home crowds and should start among the favourites.

Paul Lawrie – He hasn’t played much on the European Tour this year but he made the cut in Dubai. He has also been out in Portugal earlier this year for a spot of warm weather training so should feel at home on this course.

Duncan Stewart – Another Scot who has been showing some decent form on this year’s European Tour – he’s made five of his last six cuts. This event offers a great opportunity for a player to step up a level and Stewart could do just that with a good result, or victory here.