Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Portugal Masters 2014 - Oceanico Victoria Golf Club, Vilamoura

The European Tour continues this week in Portugal at The Oceânico Victoria Golf Club, a par 72-7200 yds course with an abundance of water, for the eighth consecutive year. Ireland’s Shane Lowry will be hoping to build on some great form of late and put in a winning challenge here; after all it’s here that the Westmeath man won his second European title back in 2012. He has every chance of doing so again having performed so strongly at the Alfred Dunhill Links last week when finishing 6th, his second successive Top10. He missed the cut when defending twelve months ago and he admitted at the time that the added attention as defending champion caused a great distraction. Shane is a much more experienced player this time round and will surely be in the mix again this week. But he's far too short in the betting and I'm very surprised that the boookies have made him such a clear favourite. Indeed the odds this week across the board offer up litttle value and the 12 man shortlist I tweeted on twitter Sunday night hasn't left me with any clear bet. Whilst I do fancy Shane to go close this week, Bernd Wiesberger may be the better bet of the market leaders @ 16/1, considering he arrives on the back of 5 TOP15s in his last 6 starts and was 3rd & 4th here the last two years. However, he's not a proven winner and he is a player that I cannot back at such a short price. Simply put, its wide open this week made all the harder to predict with poor weather forecasted on Thursday and Sunday.

We’ll have some wind as usual if the rain and thunderstorms abate, and a study of the recent results at The Oceânico Victoria Golf Club the past 5 years or so, shows that good wind players do indeed go well here. Some events do suit certain players and when punting it pays to take in to account the “horses for courses” factor. This factor was further emphasised by Oliver Wilson’s win at St Andrews on Sunday last. He had finished 2nd (again) in 2009 and was 21st in 2011. He was widely available @ 500/1 pre-event yet trumped the World No 1 coming down the stretch to take his first win on tour. Have we someone like him this week that can draw some inspiration?

South African, George Coetzee, has threatened to win a far lot more than his solitary win on tour to date. He has finished 6th and 3rd in his only 2 visits here and having finished TOP25 at St Andrews last week, despite a poor final round, he could be available at a decent enough price. So too could out of form, Ross Fisher. The Englishman is simply not producing results at present but known as a good links, wind player, Fisher has a shot this week on a course that has seen him produce four TOP10s in his last seven visits. Can we ignore him this week on recent form? At 50/1 we shouldn't really, as Oliver Wilson has proven that course form counts for a lot and a win come come from nowhere. Coetzee is best priced 33/1 and for a player that has only won once, I'm not prepared to take that price.Ross though is very tempting here.

This could be the week that we see the former European Number One, Robert Karlsson, return to the winner’s enclosure. Karlsson is a quality player returning to form after a long spell away from the limelight after injury. The Swede loves it here! Having not played the past three years, he returns to build on his previous results of 2nd-3rd-2nd in three of the previous four years. Karlsson is playing solid of late having finished Top15 at the Alfred Dunhill. That makes seven TOP25 finishes in his last twelve starts.At best price 28/1, I've had to think long and hard about a bet, but as stated he's a quality player that has shown dcent form this summer.He's played in 17 events this season, making the cut in 15. Throw in 7 TOP20s and 4 TOP10s, Karlsson is playing consitently well. He prodoced solid results at Royal Aberdeen and Golf de National and finished a handy 14th last week at The Alfred Dunhill. 28/1 is a fair price this week.

Lastly, we need to keep an eye on a player that is looking for inspiration this week. One such player has announced that he is to retire at the end of the current season and that player is Robert-Jan Derksen. He may not win this week but he could be amongst the leaders over the four days as he attempts to go out on a high. Why this week? T-11th in Scotland, and going into an event on a course that he has produced SIX TOP 20s in the previous seven years augurs well for the Dutchman, and if ever a player fitted the “horses for courses” type here, it’s Robert-Jan. Defending champion, David Lynn and Alvaro Quiros(recently moved to Vilamoura and loves the course but totally out of sorts of late) are two others that could claim to have solid form as well, but a player about to hang up his boots at the end of the month may just be on a mission to go out with a bang on a course that he clearly loves. Unfortunately, the books reflect his obvious course form as best price for TOP10 is 13/2 whereas best price TOP20 is just 11/4 (win @ 80/1). Instead I'm going to add a player @ 14/1 for a TOP20 finish that wasn't on my initial shortlist. Fighting once again to retain his card for next season, Peter lawrie has a somewhat poor season and languishes 175th on the Race to Dubai with time running out. He made a last grasp effort last year to hold onto his card and as alluded to in this week's edition of Golfing Weekly, Lawrie can take a lot of confidence from his Sunday round at St Andrews when he and his partner took at the PRO-AM title. He has fine form at Oceanico with results of 49-11-6-37-23-16 before his missed cut twelve months ago (the average finishing position for those six years between 2007 - 2012 was 23rd!) He has a chance this week to make some much needed cash to move closer to the all important 110 spot on the rankings.

Staking Plan (6 pts)

1.5 pts WIN R.Karlsson @ 30.00
1 pt WIN R. Fisher @ 50/1


2 pts R.Fisher TOP10 @ 5.50


1.5 pts TOP20 P.Lawrie @ 14/1 

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