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By SKIP BANDELE [email protected]

Popular Irishman and current world No8 Pádraig Harrington has been confirmed as a starter for the PGA European Tour 3rd Portugal Masters.

The biggest golf tournament of the year in Portugal, with a prize fund of three million euros, is hosted by the Oceânico Victoria Club in Vilamoura between October 15 and 18 and represents one of the season’s last opportunities for many players to qualify for the 15 million dollar inaugural Dubai World Championships.

The so-called Race to Dubai is currently headed in Europe by Germany’s Martin Kymer and England’s Paul Casey, who are both approaching the two million euro winnings mark while last year’s returning Portugal Masters title holder Álvaro Quirós is in 15th place and Harrington in 21st.

The 38-year-old from Dublin said: “I have always enjoyed the time I have spent in the Algarve. It is one of those destinations where we have a good weather guarantee and the courses are in top condition.”

The presence of the dual 2007 and 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA winner will add to what should be a quality field for the golf highlight of the season jointly staged by the European Tour and the Portuguese Tourist Board as part of an initial three-year agreement.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese golf team of the Algarve’s António Sobrinho and Filipe Lima narrowly failed to qualify for this year’s Team World Cup to be held at Mission Hills in China at the end of November.

Last weekend’s Estonia event began well for the pair, who were third place at the half-way stage, but late charges by Wales and Scotland snatched the prize from their grasp on the final day’s play.