Who will triumph in Vilamoura? Niall Lyons identifies four potential winners.
The usual venue in Vilamoura is the stage for this weeks European Tour offering with Thomas Pieters heading the field in what is an earlier slot in the schedule for the Portugal Masters. This event has thrown up plenty of interesting finishes down the years with the weather playing its part on plenty of occasions also. This weeks weather looks to be fine with traditional sunny weather in the Algarve awaiting the pros this week.
Big hitters have fared well here down the years with plenty of room off the tee and heavy scoring is expected once again. It is a flat, exposed layout which means the golfers can attack with the only defence for this course being the wind that materialises now and then. Pieters heads the field is certainly sitting at a tasty enough price. Current form is woeful though and despite the course theoretically suiting the Belgian he is best passed over and possibly bet in play if he starts well.
With upwards of 20 under needed to win this event I always feel it necessary to tread carefully enough with shorter priced runner as no matter what score they shoot there will always be a couple keeping tabs with them.
First up is Ryan Fox who disappointed last week but given previous form this Summer on the European tour he can not be ruled out. Birdie fests will no doubt suit the New Zealander over time and that has already been in evidence looking at some of his finishes this year. Fox can hit the ball a mile and the rest of his game is solid enough to cope here. Iron play and a silky putting touch is just what is needed around here and this could be the venue that he gets off the mark. Wind will play its part over the week which is another reason to get involved as he is well vexed there. Last week was disappointing but doesn't put me off on a venue he should love on debut.
The Victoria golf course here suits the aggressive golfer and there's few more aggressive than George Coetzee. After a string of missed cuts he bounced back to form at the KLM last week for a 3rd placed finish. Couple that with two top tens here in his last four runnings at this track and we can see Coetzee has to be considered. Top iron play to get close to flags is key to scoring high enough to be really in contention in the weekend and Coetzee is a fine component of that part of the game.
Dean Burmester is another fellow who hits the ball a mighty whack and his first trip to Vilamoura could result in another success for the South African. Recent form is solid enough but it is his ability to make plenty of birdies that makes him a bet here. There are driveable par 4s here and par 5s where length is an advantage and Dean can make hay on those. Impressive winning earlier in the year his form has somewhat stalled but this is a solid opportunity to post a solid number.
With a total of 28 under par over the last two runnings here Lucas Bjerregaard is a lively runner in what is a weak enough event bar the top couple. 12th and 9th the past two years and 3 from 3 here he clearly likes the venue and is a talented enough sort to get over the line soon. Last time we saw him he marched to a top ten in Crans where a tidy short game is necessary to score well. I'd prefer Lucas at a tighter track than this but having made a ton of birdies here down the last few years he is more than equipped to go well.