Bridget Fergusson and Sue Whittle trying on costumes.jpg

Portugal Masters 2011 better than ever

By Sue Spencer [email protected]

The fifth Portugal Masters, held last week at the Oceânico Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura, was enjoyed by around 40,000 golfing enthusiasts, with numbers boosted by the unusually hot sunny weather.

Another big draw was the strongest ever field of top golfers for this European Tour event in the Race to Dubai.

“Obviously we were disappointed that former Portugal Masters winner and world number two, Lee Westwood, had a clashing private tournament commitment in China”, said Gerry Fagan, Oceanico Group Chief Executive.

“However, of the 74 players who made the cut for the final two days, we had 30 or so of the best players in the world competing.”

The good weather, with no wind until the final day on Sunday, helped create some very low scores.   A spectacular 21 shots under par for the four days was achieved by winner Tom Lewis from Welwyn Garden City Golf Club in England who, when he shot to fame with his opening round of 65 in the Open at Royal St George’s in July, was still an amateur.  

Presenting Tom Lewis with his first European Tour trophy and a cheque for €416,000, Gerry Fagan said: “We have all today witnessed a brilliant young star who, before the age of 21, has achieved an incredible amount with incredible composure.”  

In second place at 19 under par was Spanish golfer Rafal Cabrera-Bello, and sharing third with 18 under par were a multi-national bunch comprising George Coetzee from South Africa, Felipe Aguilar from Chile, Christian Nilsson from Sweden, Gregory Havret from France and David Lynn from England.

Portuguese amateur Pedro Figueiredo finished 14 under par for the tournament and at just 20 years old delighted his followers with some wonderful golf.

“Therein lies the future of golf in Portugal,” said Gerry Fagan. Figueiredo plans to turn professional in one and a half years’ time after finishing his studies in America.  

Oceanico’s professional golfing ambassador and local crowd pleaser Ricardo Santos, who is currently third on the Challenge Tour, also played some magnificent golf but failed to make the cut by just one shot, caused by an errant tee shot into the water on the treacherous eighteenth hole after birdying the seventeenth.

“We had a great field this year”, said Gerry Fagan. “A good spread of the best players in the world, local heroes in the form of Pedro Figueiredo and Ricardo Santos – and a bit of spice from American John Daly.”  

Other big names included world number six Martin Kaymer, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Francesco Molinari, Paul Lawrie, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez,Ross Fisher, Simon Dyson, Alexander Noran and Paul McGinley – as well as former Portugal Masters winners Richard Green, Alvaro Quiros and Steve Webster.

More than 300 volunteers from both the UK and the Algarve golfing society Golf For Greys helped marshal the event.

Portugal’s Secretary of State for tourism, Cecília Meireles, said: “The Portugal Masters is a fantastic advertisement for golf in Portugal and the country as a whole.”