The European Tour heads to the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura this week for the Portugal Masters.
A host of big names are in the field – including Ryder Cup stars Francesco Molinari and Martin Kaymer – as the battle to infiltrate the top 60 on the money list and qualify for the Dubai World Championship heats up.
And with only seven events left until the season’s finale, it is an important week for those currently languishing outside the top 115 in the Race to Dubai standings with aspirations of retaining their tour card.
The Oceanico Course is set to yield some low scores this week. At 7,231 yards, it isn’t one of the longest tracks on tour, all four par 5s are reachable in two and the average winning score over the past three years is -21.
Tom Lewis defends the title he won so memorably last year in only his third professional start, but having recorded just one round in the 60s since April 22, a repeat performance seems somewhat unlikely.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Molinari and Kaymer have been installed as the joint favourites this week, but there are plenty of other names worth considering.
That being said, it is hard to look past Molinari at 16/1 with Ladbrokes. The Italian will be on cloud nine after securing the half point that won Europe the 39th Ryder Cup. He is currently seventh in Stroke Average, 23rd in Driving Accuracy and third in Greens in Regulation on the European Tour. He also has tremendous course form at Oceanico, finishing second in both 2010 and 2011.
Danny Willett, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes, looks a good bet this week. He finished in a tie for second at the Omega European Masters, a tie for 26th at the KLM Open and a tie for fifth last week at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, his last three starts. He currently ranks 25th on tour in Driving Distance and finished in a tie for sixth here in 2009.
Joost Luiten is a good price this week at 50/1 with Labrokes, and a player who is capable of going extremely low when everything clicks into place. He is eighth on the European Tour in Stroke Average, 16th in Driving Accuracy and 14th in Greens in Regulation. His recent form isn’t spectacular but he has a very good record at the Portugal Masters, finishing 29th in 2010 and second last year.
Alvaro Quiros may seem like a strange selection given his form, but 66/1 with Ladbrokes is a decent price for someone with such a good record in this event. He finished 11th in 2007, won the tournament in 2008 and finished 16th in 2009 and 2011. He loves playing golf in warm conditions and said on arrival in Portugal he felt confident returning to Vilamoura.
Gary Boyd, at 125/1 with Ladbrokes, is a good outside bet this week. He missed the cut last week, but showed some good form two weeks previously at the Italian Open, where he shot a closing 63 en route to a tie for fifth place. He finished ninth at the Portugal Masters in 2010 and, coming into the week in 116th place in the Race to Dubai Standings, he knows he needs a good finish to secure his 2013 playing privileges.
3pts outright on Francesco Molinari at 16/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Danny Willett at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Joost Luiten at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Alvaro Quiros at 60/1 with Ladbrokes
1pts each way on Gary Boyd at 125/1 with Ladbrokes