Lowdown:
The European Tour is on the Algarve this week for the Portugal Masters at the Oceânico Victoria Club in Vilamoura. Ireland’s Shane Lowry is the defending champion.

This will be the seventh hosting of the Portugal Masters and the list of winners to this point is impressive. Steve Webster took the inaugural title in 2007 and Alvaro Quiros, Lee Westwood, Richard Green and Tom Lewis have been victorious since then.

Last year, Shane Lowry of Ireland played a superb final round of 66 to finish one clear of England’s Ross Fisher.

Both those men will be in the field again this year and they are joined on the start sheet by an impressive selection of European Tour stars.

Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts will tee it up. So too, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thomas Bjorn and Dunhill Links winner David Howell.

This is the penultimate tournament before the European Tour’s inaugural “Final Series” so the players are jockeying for position in the Race to Dubai. Many will be looking to secure their place in the top 110 to gain playing rights for 2014, while others will be looking to move into the top-60 to qualify for the lucrative DP World Tour Championship.

The Victoria in Vilamoura is part of Oceânico’s impressive portfolio of courses. Opened for play in 2000, it was designed by Arnold Palmer. It’s an American-style track with generous fairways and large, rolling greens. In 2005 the course hosted the World Cup, won by Wales.

Venue: Oceânico Victoria Golf Club, Vilamoura, Portugal
Date: Oct 10-13
Course stats: par 71, 7,209 yards
Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €333,330
Defending Champion: Shane Lowry (-14)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 10 – Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am
Friday 11 – Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am
Saturday 12 – Sky Sports 4 from 2pm
Sunday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 2pm

Player Watch:

Martin Kaymer – The German has been playing solidly if unspectacularly this season. He showed excellent form in the first three rounds of the Dunhill Links before fading over the closing 18. If he can find his best form, he’ll be tough to beat.

Ross Fisher – Second in this event last year and on good form after top-five finishes in Switzerland and Holland. He hasn’t won on the European Tour since the Irish Open of 2010 and it’s high time he picked up another title.

Joost Luiten – One of the hottest players on the European Tour right now, Luiten played superbly in last week’s Seve Trophy. The Dutchman won in Holland and was in contention for the Dunhill until a disappointing final round.

Key Hole: 18th. At 463 yards this is a fabulous finishing hole. Water waits all the way up the left side from the tee and it continues to play a part in the approach. Anything coming up short or straying left will end up wet. A par here is a tough ask, particularly if you have a one-shot lead on Sunday afternoon.