The Portugal Masters is this week’s tournament in Europe and the organisers have been rewarded with a decent field. Several tournaments have been cancelled this year due to the economic downturn, so this one has done well to survive without a title sponsor.
The European Tour climax is the Dubai World Championships in November and several of this week’s leading contenders have already qualified for the season finale. The top 60 in the Order of Merit qualify to play in Dubai, so a number of players will be hoping to find some decent form over the next few weeks to earn a spot.
This does not apply to Martin Kaymer (pictured) and Francesco Molinari, the two Ryder Cup players in the field who have easily qualified for the lucrative season-ending event. Kaymer will always be remembered for holing the putt that retained the Ryder Cup, but his form since qualifying for the team has been moderate.
The younger of the two Molinari brothers looks to have a better chance of picking up the winner’s cheque on Sunday afternoon. He has made the cut in each of the five years the tournament has been staged and finished just two shots behind the winner in 2009 and 2010.
Molinari also has a decent skill’s profile for the Oceanic Victoria Golf Club that has hosted the tournament since the inaugural year in 2007. This is a resort course on the Algarve in southern Portugal. The course was designed to suit players of all standards, including high handicap amateurs who visit this part of the world for a golfing holiday.
The course is obviously toughened when the pros are in town, but it should still present plenty of birdie and eagle opportunities. The average winning score has been 21 under, so plenty of putts will have to be converted in order to contend.
Alexander Noren is another player who has made the weekend in each of the five stagings of this tournament. He is a proven winner on the European Tour and is a player who is not afraid to go low. He scores well in the accuracy disciplines and those aptitudes will be key on a course that rewards accuracy over distance.