The European Tour travels to the Algarve this week for the Portugal Masters. Alvaro Quiros defends the title but he’ll face stiff competition from an extremely strong field.
As the Race to Dubai gathers pace, this will be an important week because most of the main protagonists are on the entry list and there’s a large prize fund up for grabs – the winner will take home €500,000.
Rory McIlroy currently holds a narrow lead in the Race to Dubai and, with the players in second and third places (Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey) sidelined through injury, the Northern Irishman could extend his advantage. Fourth placed Lee Westwood is less than €300,000 behind McIlroy and victory in Vilamoura could propel him to the top of the standings.
Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson and the on-form Simon Dyson will also be looking to improve their positions – all three are currently in the top-10.
Padraig Harrington is confident he’s not out of the inaugural Race to Dubai despite lying over €1,000,000 behind McIlroy in 21st place. “I’ve got four events left to give myself a chance of winning,” he said. “I probably need to win two of those four events, and a few other things to go right, but that would be the goal at the moment – the Race to Dubai”
Last season Alvaro Quiros played four excellent rounds over the Oceânico Victoria Course to finish three clear of 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie. The victory acted as a springboard for the Spaniard and he went on from there to secure and solidify a position in the world’s top-50.
The Victoria Course at Vilamoura was designed by Arnold Palmer and opened for play in 2000. It’s one of six Oceânico-owned layouts in Vilamoura. It’s a relatively flat track with tricky greens – if the wind blows it could test the players but, if conditions remain calm, expect to see low scoring. Quiros won here last year with a 19-under-par total.
Venue: Centro Oceânico Victoria Course, Vilamoura, Portugal
Date: October 15-18
Course stats: par 72, 7,231 yards
Purse: €3,000,000 Winner: €500,000
Defending Champion: Alvaro Quiros (-19)
Thursday 15 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am
Friday 16 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am
Saturday 17 – Live on Sky Sports Xtra from 2pm
Sunday 18 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 2pm
Rory McIlroy – The 20-year-old is determined to secure the inaugural Race to Dubai title and a good finish in this “big money” event would assist him greatly in that quest.
Padraig Harrington – The Irishman has showed over the past couple of months that he’s back to something approaching his best form. He’d love to bag a late-season victory.
Soren Kjeldsen – A great performer when the Tour visits the Iberian peninsula, Kjeldsen is still in with a shout of taking the Race to Dubai title and he’s more than capable of causing an upset.
Key hole: 17th. A par 5 of 589 yards, it’s reachable in two but water lurks on the right side for both the drive and approach. Eagle is a possibility here but there’s also the chance of a big number being racked up. There could be some big swings on the 17th as the tournament reaches its climax.
Skills required: Putting. It’s on the Victoria course’s fast and tricky greens that this tournament will be decided.