The third Portugal Masters teed off yesterday (Thursday) at the Victoria Golf Club in Vilamoura, one of seven prestigious courses owned by the Oceânico Group.
A total of 126 of the best players in the game are competing for a share of the three million euro prize fund on offer and, more importantly, potentially vital ranking points as the race to the money-spinning inaugural Dubai World Championships nears its climax.
Local fans will be hoping that Ricardo Santos, representing the tournament organisers, Algarve pro António Sobrinho, Nuno Campino or the in-form Filipe Lima will be among those making this (Friday) afternoon’s cut, but it would be a major surprise to see any of this quartet heading up the leader board come Sunday given the presence of the strongest field ever for this year’s event.
Those elevated heights are normally the domain of established stars such as Ireland’s world No9 Padraig Harrington, experienced Englishman Lee Westwood, current European PGA Tour leader Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, David Howell, Graeme McDowell or multiple Major winner Retief Goosen who are all competing here.
Throw in the likes of crowd pleaser and one-time Penina Portugal Open champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, the mercurical Colin Montgomerie or ultra-consistent Swede Robert Karlsson and spectators should really be treated to four days of the best the game has to offer.
However, in golf nothing is beyond the realms of possibility, with both 2007 and 2008 Algarve victors Steve Webster and Álvaro Quirós demonstrating that a relative unknown is more than capable of grabbing the silverware on the day.
The Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria course, considered one of the most stunning in Europe, is interspaced by numerous bunkers and lakes which have proven to be the downfall of many a famous name in the past.
Oceânico Golf chief executive officer Chris Stilwell, who has been involved with the sport in the region since its infancy, is proud that the Oceânico group, together with the Portuguese Tourist Board and the PGA European Tour, is hosting one of the top tournaments on the golfing calendar for the third year in succession.
“The best golf players in the world will be in our country showing that, at a global level, Portugal is a privileged golf destination boasting both excellent conditions and a favourable climate”, he concluded.