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Portugal Masters – Dom Pedro Golf Vilamoura – Portugal

 

Re-cap – KLM Open

Huge congratulations to Romain Wattel for picking up his first European tour win, unfortunately not part of my picks but we did come close with a 2nd place from Connelly, 3rd place from Westwood and if not for a disaster and a pair of 7’s in the final stretch Aphibarnrat should of closed the deal, picked up the win and not slipped from the holding the lead into a still respectable 9th place.

Anyway ignoring a few poor performances, all in all it was a decent week and as always its great to see readers sharing their success and building that bankroll.

Next Up – Portugal Masters

Right time for a change of scenery, change in the weather and playing conditions as the European Tour jet off to the sunny Algarve in Portugal to play the 11th edition of the Portugal Masters.

This long standing event is a firm favorite of the players and a great event to spectate. Obviously much better absorbed whilst soaking up the sun and a bottle of cold beer in hand but still with good coverage planned it should be an enjoyable event to watch from the luxury of your own home especially with the anticipated birdie fest on offer and very interesting field for various reasons 

The Course

Designed by the late, great Arnold Palmer The Victoria Course is one of five courses at the Vilamoura resort, the Victoria opened in 2004 and just a year later staged the World Cup, won that year by Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge of Wales, before the first Portugal Masters was played here in 2007.

Playing to 7,146-yard and a par of 71, the picturesque, often sun-drenched Victoria has generous fairways and gentle rough and therefore puts a premium on close approaches, a solid putting stroke and plentiful birdies.

Despite its easier style of playability, there are a number of hazards strategically lurking across the 90-hectare site for those straying too far off line, with several lakes and bunkers in play and plenty of natural vegetation including carob, olive and almond trees.

Overview From Robert Karlsson

“The course has changed a bit over the years,” said Karlsson, who topped the European Tour money-list in 2008. “When we first came here it was a par 72 but since then they have added a few new tees and changed it to a par 71. I remember the first couple of years were really low scoring – and it’s still pretty low scoring now!”

“Like any low scoring golf course, you need to play the par fives well. There are only three of them now but the last two – 11 and 17 – are holes on which you can drop shots, with water on both, or pick up shots. 

Greens and putting

“Any time it’s low scoring you need to make a lot of birdies and therefore make a lot of putts,” continued Karlsson. “Staying away from the big numbers is crucial here, too, because it’s tough to keep up with the field if you are making mistakes somewhere like this. So you need to play solid all round but chipping and putting well is key and if you stay on your game then you are going to get a lot of short irons and chances to put some good numbers together.”

Key Holes

The 315-yard par four 15th

“A short par four, you can get really close to the green or sometimes even drive it so this is an important hole to make your birdies – or eagles – on. It’s 315 from the back of the one and only tee so a lot depends on wind direction. With the wet weather we’ve had here in recent years that got a bit tougher but with all the sunshine this week, we’ll be looking to get it close here.”

The 463-yard par four 18th

“There are a couple of really tough par fours out there actually. The third, when it plays into the wind, the seventh and, of course, the 18th. Playing with the normal wind, which is off the left on the tee, makes it tricky with the water down the left. You need a good tee shot and a good approach shot to stay out of trouble and under the pressure of trying to contend to win an event, that’s not always that easy!” 

How it’s played in previous years

Low scoring is the name of the game at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course. The tournament record score to par is Steve Webster in 2007 (25 under on a par 72), while in 2015 Andy Sullivan recorded the lowest total score at 261 (23 under on a par 71). 

The average winner here, meanwhile, has made a chunky 25 birdies through four tournament rounds. In 2007 Webster made a record 28 birdies, matched by Mikko Korhonen when he finished tied third last year, while Alexander Levy made 18 in just 36 holes of the weather-curtailed 2014 edition –  the 18th most birdies in the first two rounds of any tournament since 1999.

The course average from 2007 to 2016 has been 70.1 (0.9 shots under par) and among other regular European Tour venues, only the Old Course and Castle Stuart have been more favourable to birdie-makers over the last few years. Conversely, bogey-avoidance is less crucial meaning Greens in Regulation are much less important here than normal.

Hole superlatives

• Most likely to be birdied – 12th hole (52% birdie or better)
• Most likely non-par 5 to be birdied – 15th hole (36% birdie or better)
• Most likely to be bogeyed – Seventh hole (30% bogey or worse)
• Easiest GIR – Fifth hole (87%)
• Toughest GIR – Seventh hole (43%)
• Easiest Fairway to hit – Fifth hole (66%)
• Toughest Fairway to hit – Third hole (50%)

 

The Field

Plenty of household names will be appearing this week including Ryder cup stars in the form of Pieters and Sullivan, we also have appearances from multiple past winners of this event and the inclusion of a good few sponsors invites who have just turned pro after competing in the Walker Cup. It will be very interesting to see how the likes of Boote, Brar, Plant, Syme, Davidson and Gregory fair this week and how well they make that transition from the amateur game.

The Weather

Looking like an absolutely gorgeous week for some low scoring golf, the sun will be out, a mild breeze present and maybe the odd cloud floating by but other than that not much to report. As it stands early Thursday am players might have the best of the scoring conditions but honestly I believe the advantage to be so minimal that its not really worth factoring in to your line ups. Pick the players you like and roll with them if anything changes updates will be posted in time.

Key Stats and Strategy

Very simple one this week as far as looking into what is required to be successful:

Hot with the putter – Going to be low scoring so essential opportunities are converted

Greens in regulation and proximity – Players will have shorter clubs in hand going into the greens on a good number of occasions. So capitalizing with good iron and wedge play will create scoring chances.

Scrambling – Due to low scoring it will be essential that when mistakes are made players aren’t moving backwards with silly dropped shots around the green.

Par 4 and Par 5 Scoring – Traditionally par 4 scoring on this track has been the key to going low. The par 5’s on offer will also need to be taken advantage of and as mentioned earlier extremely crucial players aren’t giving shots back to the field on these potentially awkward holes.

As always form, course fit and course history has been researched and weighted into my picks

My Picks and Plays

$10,000 +

There are 4 players on offer this week in this category and in all honesty I will have a little ownership of all 4. However the player I am likely to have the highest ownership of is Thorbjorn Olessen $10,000. He will be coming into this event with great form, hasn’t missed a cut since May and in the process has picked up 3 top 10’s and came very close on 2 occasions to picking up a win. The course should set up perfectly to his aggressive style of play and I certainly expect him to be high up the leader board come Sunday afternoon.

$9,000 – $10,000

George Coetzee $9,700 – Its always a bit of a gamble when picking George in your line ups. Bit of an all or nothing player, has only made 10 cuts from the 20 events played but when he has made a cut there is a great chance he will be comfortably inside the top 10 (10 cuts made/6 top 10’s). Fresh off a 3rd place finish at the KLM where he looked much more at ease with his game and now heading to another course where he can open the shoulders and let rip. Should make loads of birdies and that alone is a great reason to play him this week.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat $9,500 – Although it was disappointing to see him throw away the lead last time out, I have to roll with him again. His game looks really sharp at the moment, the putter is hot, has had 7 of his last 8 rounds in the 60’s and on a course like this I fully expect him to continue this fine form.

Eddie Pepperell $9,100 – Eddie’s in a great place right now and so is his golf… Having recently found a new level of confidence he has been able to translate that into results that over the last 3 events have seen him progress and place T28, T5 and then T3 last week. Finding fairways hitting greens and rolling in the putts.

$8,000 – $9,000

Ryan Fox $8,700 – On a course where birdies are available and low scoring is key it seems only right to take a good chunk of Ryan in your line ups. As we all know Ryan bombs it miles and has that potential to compete at the top.

Haydn Porteous $8,400 – Haydn has been incredibly impressive of late and even picked up a win only 2 events a go at the Czech Masters. Another player that has solid length from the tee but keeps that ball under control, with the set up this week it should play in to his hands and I feel very confident of another good placing here.

Callum Shinkwin $8,200 – Ultra aggressive player, great length off the tee but slightly susceptible to the big miss. This play is a bit of a gamble and much like George Coetzee well worth a little gamble. If he can get it going and hold it together way more than capable of adding his name to this years winners list.

$7,000 – $8,000

Matt Wallace £7,900 – After a bit of a downturn in performance Matt in recent weeks has turned things around and found better consistency. Consequently he is now making cuts and picking up good cash along the way with good placings. finished T9 last time out and expect that form to roll into this week.

Austin Connelly $7,600 – Austin did really well for me at the KLM and hence why I am happy to roll with him again. This course doesn’t require you to bomb it off the tee and certainly pays to be a little more accurate which fits perfectly in to his game. ownership was less than 5% last week but I do expect it to be a little higher this time.

Mikko Korhonen $7,600 – If your a horses for courses lover then Mikko presents exactly that. Finished 9th in 2015 and placed 3rd last year. had a decent outing at the KLM that resulted in T38, however back on a course far better suited to his style of play we can expect that placing to be somewhere close to, if not back in the top 10 for the third year running.

Dean Burmester $7,500 – Birdie Machine, hits it long and holes way more than his fair share of puts. i wont have huge ownership but will feature in at least a line up or two.

Clement Berardo $7,200 – I have to be honest here and tell you all this is purely a punt pick, featuring in one of my line ups so only right he has been thrown into the write up. Played really well in his last 2 events, placing 25th and 17th. Will be very low owned and just hoping he can continue form and pick up another placing inside the top 25.

$7,000 or less

Paul Peterson $6,900 – It’s been a while since I have included this lefty from the states. Anyway after stringing together some made cuts in recent weeks and starting to show signs of confidence in his game, I now feel confident to play him again and expect at very least a made cut and good number of birdies along his journey.

Todd Sinnott $6,900 – Very surprised that Todd is once again in this budget category. From his 6 starts on tour this year he has only failed to make the cut once. Played well last week and finished T20 despite catching a bit of bad luck with his tee times for the opening rounds.

David Boote $6,800 – Played in the Walker Cup just gone and since returning home has now taken the plunge to become a full on touring pro. I have had the opportunity throughout the year to catch some of David’s golf and everything I have seen so far has been impressive to say the least. He will be very keen to get his career off to a great start and after all the experiences gained I think he should comfortably make the cut even in a stronger field than he’s used to.

Sam Brazel $6,700 – Very surprised to see Sam at this price considering he has made the cut in all of his last 5 events.. Ok hasn’t been pushing into those higher paying places but if you need a little reliabilty at this bottom end he could tick that box perfectly

Jack Singh Brar $6,500 – Another Walker Cup player who has just committed to the professional game. All round solid game and putts the lights out on most courses. Super competitive and makes very few mistakes during his rounds.

Next Up For Me

 

Another busy week scheduled and I may struggle to get the usual content out to you next week as I will be looping once again for Connor Fletcher but this time in Hardelot, France in hope to progress to the next stages of European Tour School and eventually pick up that golden ticket to the big show.

Obviously with it being the British masters I am extremely keen to cover this event in full however if I cant get a full write up done due to time constraints and lack of internet access I will still at the very least publish my picks.

As always best of luck to you all in your line ups and fingers crossed for green screens in there abundance.