Portugal Masters preview

The European Tour is on the Algarve this week for the Portugal Masters at the Oceânico Victoria course in Vilamoura. Australia’s Richard Green is the defending champion and a strong field has assembled.

Richard Green defends

Lowdown: The European Tour is on the Algarve this week for the Portugal Masters at the Oceânico Victoria course in Vilamoura. Australia's Richard Green is the defending champion and a strong field has assembled. This is the fifth time the Portugal Masters has been contested on the European Tour and, as the Race to Dubai heats up, many of the main protagonists have travelled to compete in this event. Not only are they drawn by the significant prize fund on offer in Vilamoura, but also by the prospect of securing their place in the top-60 on the rankings and thereby guaranteeing participation in the Dubai World Championship in December. 38 players currently in the top-60 on the Race to Dubai will start this week. There are five Major champions and 20 former Ryder Cup players in the field. Martin Kaymer is the top ranked player starting and he'll be joined by Francesco Molinari, Thomas Bjorn and Padraig Harrington amongst others. The Irishman placed third in this tournament back in 2009 and he'll be hoping to score his first European Tour victory since the 2008 USPGA Championship. "Portugal is always a great place to play golf and I'm looking forward to returning to Vilamoura," he said. "The field looks very strong but I'll be trying to concentrate on my own game and hope I can contend and pick up points towards the Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup qualification. It would be fantastic to win another European Tour title." In last year's Portugal Masters Australia's Richard Green charged through the field with a final round of 65 that included an amazing 11 birdies. He finished two clear of Francesco Molinari who was a model of inconsistency through the week. The Italian opened with a 74 before a 62 put him right back in contention. Another 74 in round three and he looked to be out of the running, but he bounced back with another 62 on the Sunday to finish alone in second. The Victoria in Vilamoura is part of Oceânico's impressive portfolio of courses. Opened for play in 2000, it was designed by Arnold Palmer. It's an American-style track with generous fairways and large, rolling greens. In 2005 the course hosted the World Cup, won by Wales

Venue: Oceanico Victoria Course, Vilamoura, Portugal Date: Oct 13-16 Course stats: par 72, 7,231 yards Purse: €2,500,000 Winner: €416,660 Defending Champion: Richard Green (-18)

TV Coverage: Thursday 13 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 11.30am Friday 14 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 11.30am Saturday 15 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 2pm Sunday 16 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 2pm

Player Watch: Francesco Molinari - The Italian was runner-up here last year and twice in that tournament shot a 62 round the Victoria course. If he can replicate that sort of play, he'll be tough to beat this week. He was sixth last week in Madrid.

Simon Dyson - One of the real form horses on the European Tour at the moment. He won in Holland last month and posted another top-10 finish in his last start at the Alfred Dunhill Links.

Peter Hanson - Another man who's looked to be in great form over the last few weeks. Top-10 finishes in both the Alfred Dunhill Links and the Madrid Masters hint that the Swede might be ready to claim a fifth European Tour victory. Key hole: 18th. At 463 yards this is a fabulous finishing hole. Water waits all the way up the left side from the tee and it continues to play a part in the approach. Anything coming up short or straying left will end up wet. A par here is a tough ask, particularly if you have a one-shot lead on Sunday afternoon. Where next? PGA Tour - McGladrey Classic preview

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?