Pete Hanson's attacking game looks tailor-made for Vilamoura this week.
We return once again to Vilamoura and the Victoria Clube de Golfe for this years renewal of the Portugal Masters. This event has been heavily affected by weather down the last few years with Alex Levy winning a rain shortened event and last year Andy Sullivan winning easy when it miraculously went the full 72 holes despite some vicious wind and rain. Colsaerts and Levy fought out the shortened event two years ago so clearly long hitters can go well here. Likewise some of the shorter hitters have won here so we can't assume an awful lot. Attacking golf and a hot putter will be needed to contend here with very low scores expected in calmer conditions than previous years.
Thomas Pieters has elevated himself onto the top level of European Tour golf but looked somewhat fatigued at the Dunhill after his Ryder Cup heroics. I would not be surprised if his year just peters out (sorry) from here. Clearly he has the perfect game for here but I'm not too excited about taking 7/1 about somebody who if he even shoots 18 under par will still have plenty of challengers due to the nature of the course. The same applies for Alex Noren, even though I'd rate him a better bet. He is probably playing better golf and his putter is red hot. Single figures once again make little appeal though.
PETER HANSON probably looks better equipped than most to take on this weeks task and given his 4th placed finish last week he may just be ready to step back into the winners enclosure. It has been an encouraging 12 months for Hanson who is 63rd on the Race to Dubai. This can be considered somewhat of a success for someone who looked absolutely gone at the game. He has a powerful attacking game that suits this course and that is evident with two top 5 finishes here in 2007 and 2009. Of all the players towards the top of the market this is the first one who appeals to me at the odds.
With 9 made cuts from the last 11 events ROBERT KARLSSON is another old dog who may come out to play this week. He finished 3rd in the European Open a few weeks back which shows he is getting back to somewhere near his best and this classy operator has another win or two in him yet. He has posted two runner up finishes and a 3rd here at this venue and given the lack of value at the top of the market I'm prepared to take a chance on Bobby.
I'm treading somewhat carefully in this event this year as it is a very top heavy field and if one of the favs perform they may be hard to beat on Sunday. However, in the calm conditions I do feel big hitters will be there or thereabouts and I'm happy to have a small each-way bet on ROMAIN WATTEL. He missed the cut last week but that venue wouldn't have been up his alley totally. Previous to that a top 20 at the Dunhill was solid. More importantly three visits here have resulted in him shooting decent scores despite some poor weather. 26-3-22 in three appearances is solid form and this is the type of event he will breakthrough on if he ever will. A birdie fest that will feature many at the top of the leaderboard at the weekend. At 80/1 he is a shade of value.