Venue: Dom Pedro Victoria, Vilamoura, Portugal
Date: September 20-23, 2018
Course stats: Par 71; 7,146 yards
Purse: €2 million (£1.7m)
Defending champion: Lucas Bjerregaard (-20)
Thursday: Sky Sports Golf – from 11.30am
Friday: Sky Sports Golf – from 11.30am
Saturday: Sky Sports Golf – from 12.30pm
Sunday: Sky Sports Golf – from 12.30pm
Portugal Masters preview
The European Tour heads to the Algarve for the Portugal Masters, and the big story is it’s the first time Sergio Garcia tees it up since Captain Thomas Bjorn handed the Spaniard a controversial wildcard pick for the Ryder Cup.
Garcia has endured a torrid time on the golf course of late, missing seven cuts in his last 12 starts.
So in a desperate attempt to rekindle old form, he’s a late entrant into this week’s European Tour stop having failed to qualify for any of the FedEx Cup Play-off events.
But how will Garcia fare in his first ever visit to Dom Pedro Victoria? Ever since the tournament’s inception in 2007, one factor has remained constant: low-scoring.
Indeed, the winning score was 25-under back in 2007 and, since then, players have regularly been getting into the low -20s.
That typically means the putter needs to get hot to roll in the plentiful birdie opportunities that come the players’ way.
If the flatstick isn’t firing for Garcia – which it often doesn’t – then the former Masters champion could be looking at yet another missed weekend.
It will be fascinating to see how he gets on…
Portugal Masters betting tips
I’m pretty surprised by Garcia’s price of 22/1 – he is, of course, in awful form, but he’s had some good results over on this side of the pond this year (T8 at Open de France and T12 at BMW International Open).
I think he’s being slightly underrated by the bookies, especially when you consider Thorbjorn Olesen is the favourite at eight points shorter than the Spaniard.
While the Portugal Masters has produced classy winners like Padraig Harrington, Andy Sullivan and Alexander Levy, it has also sprung a few surprises down the years.
That’s where I’m going to put the majority of the focus – by playing a bunch of big-odds players.
Dom Pedro Victoria is a classic resort-style course which typically lends itself to bombers who happen to get hot with the putter.
So to kick things off, I’ll opt for Haydn Porteous (80/1, 8 places) who has a chance to get a third European Tour win under his belt.
The South African has missed the cut in both of his attempts around this course, but he’s been playing some excellent golf over the past month, finishing inside of the top-40 in each of his last five events.
Porteous is typically one of the longest from the tee on the tour, yet he played nicely at the tight Made in Denmark track a few weeks ago, navigating his way around the short, tree-lined layout to a 37th place finish.
Two weeks prior to that he contended at the fiddly Hills Golf Club at the Nordea Masters, eventually finishing sixth and claiming his best finish of the season.
Even Crans-sur-Sierre wouldn’t have really suited Porteous, yet he had a chance to win with a round to go before fading to 16th with a final round 74.
The 24-year-old won at the Albatross Golf Resort last year at the Czech Masters, and that could be a good pointer for success here at Dom Pedro. Padraig Harrington very nearly won that event last month, and the Irishman triumphed here at Dom Pedro two years ago.
That link with the Czech Masters looks worth pursuing, so I’ll head to Gavin Green (100/1, 8 places) for my next pick.
This incredibly talented Malaysian consistently ranks as one of the best from the tee. He evidenced that when finishing third in the Czech Republic last month by averaging over 330 yards in driving distance, which led the field.
He’ll be playing this course for the first time, which is an obvious concern, but his price reflects that and both Levy and Tom Lewis won here on their first attempts.
Green also put in a fairly eye-catching performance at the Omega European Masters two weeks ago when firing a third round 63 on his way to a 12th place finish.
That’s a course that probably wouldn’t have suited his big-hitting, often erratic, style of play. He’s clearly a huge talent and a win at this level might not be far away.
You’ve seen Keel’s top picks, but who else is he backing for the Portugal Masters? Turn the page to find out…