Strong field set for Portugal Masters

Andy Sullivan, Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren will all play in Vilamoura this week

Andy Sullivan defends Portugal Masters
Andy Sullivan defends Portugal Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s an impressive entry list for this year’s Portugal Masters to be held in Vilamoura. It includes defending champion Andy Sullivan, Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters and last week’s winner Alex Noren.

This year will be the 10th instalment of the Portugal Masters. First contested in 2007, the inaugural tournament was won by England’s Steve Webster. Since then, Alvaro Quiros, Lee Westwood, Richard Green, Tom Lewis, Shane Lowry, David Lynn and Alexander Levy have been champions.

In last year’s Portugal Masters Andy Sullivan produced a dominant display to win by nine shots over Chris Wood. He opened with a pair of 64s and followed up with rounds of 67 and 66 to post a 72-hole total of 23-under-par.

Sullivan will be back this season to try and defend his Portugal Masters title. A large group of family, friends and members from this local golf club “Sulli’s Army” are heading out to support him.

“It will be nice to go back to Portugal to try put up a stellar defence and regain the title, especially with 70 members of my golf club coming out,” he said. “With any luck the crowds will be cheering me on and getting behind me, and hopefully that will inspire me to go on and do it again.”

The Victoria in Vilamoura is part of Oceânico’s impressive portfolio of courses. Opened for play in 2004, it was designed by the great 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.

The weather forecast for the Algarve looks fine until the weekend but rain could roll in on Saturday. Tournament organisers will be hoping it isn’t sufficiently strong to affect play.

Venue: Victoria Clube de Golfe, Vilamoura, Portugal Date: Oct 20-23 Course stats: par 71, 7,146 yards Purse: €2,000,000 Winner: €333,330 Defending Champion: Andy Sullivan (-23)

TV Coverage: Thursday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 11.30am Friday 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 11.30am Saturday 22 – Sky Sports 4 from 2pm Sunday 23 – Sky Sports 4 from 1pm

Player watch: There are a few strong favourites this week on fine form.

Alex Noren – He just won again at The Grove in the British Masters. It was the Swede’s third victory of the 2016 European Tour season. He has recorded three top-20 finishes in this event in the past.

Thomas Pieters – The young Belgian must have stepped up a level mentally following his hugely impressive performance at Hazeltine. He was tied sixth in this event last year.

Thomas Pieters driving tips:

Alex Levy – He’s a former winner of this event, back in 2014, and he’s on great form. He was winner of the Porsche European Open last month.

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.

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?