The Open de Portugal 2017 Preview


Our golf scribe previews this week's European Tour event, the Open de Portugal.

After a Golf Sixes event that had its fair share of detractors, the Tour returns to a relative sense of normality with the Open De Portugal. This is the beginning of an interesting stretch of tournaments on the tour, with the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth looming over the horizon followed by the Open at Royal Birkdale. This was once a hugely popular event on the tour, dating back to its beginning in 1952. However, a lack of funding saw the event phased out by the tour in 2010, and the success of the Portugal Masters towards the back end of the season has largely nullified the loss.
The tournament returns this year as a co-sanctioned event between the Challenge Tour and The European Tour. As such, the field that has been wrangled together this year is one of the poorest that I can quite frankly ever remember seeing on the tour. Considering the fact that it is competing with the Players on the US PGA Tour, it’s perhaps no wonder the tour is busy experimenting with events such as the GolfSixes. This isn’t all bad and can introduce excellent betting opportunities, particularly towards the top end of the market. The fact that favorite Ricardo Gouveia is only sitting at 14/1 represents an amazing return on any investment this week.

At just under 6400 yards, this Morgado course is almost comically short at a professional level, especially considering the fact that it is a Par 73. Designer Russell Talley has likened it to a Scottish-style links course, and there is the chance wind could become a factor on the highly exposed links layout. So this could be a good week to back the favourites or speculate wildly as the big boys dual it out in Florida.

The Open de Portugal | Thursday 11 May - Sunday 14 May | Morgado Golf Course

Past Winners
2010: Thomas Bjorn (-23) | 2009: Michael Hoey (-7) | 2008: Gregory Bourdy (-18) | 2007: Pablo Martin (-7) | 2006: Paul Broadhurst (-17)

To Win Outright
Trevor Fisher Jnr 18/1 | Ricardo Gouveia 25/1 | Paul Lawrie 25/1 | Max Orrin 25/1 | Aaron Rai 28/1

Value Bets

Paul Lawrie - To Win 25/1 & To Place 11/2
The former Open Champion will hope that the wind picks up as he is perhaps still one of the best players on the entire European Tour in blustery conditions. He recently played in three events on the Portugal Pro Tour, finishing ninth, fifth and third. He has played well in Portugal before, finishing fifth in the Portugal Masters just last season. He should have won this event in 2005 and also finished second in the Portugal Masters in 2008. He also won his last start at the Dimension-Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour.

Jaco Ahlers - To Win 33/1 & To Place 7/1
Jaco Ahlers is now a six-time winner on the Sunshine Tour following a hat-trick of victories in the 2016 campaign. He is now trying out the European Tour for the first time after coming through qualifying school in November. He has bagged a couple of top 25’s on the Sunshine Tour of late and recently dropped back to the Challenge Tour to take T9 in the Kenya Open. That performance included a 64, and I think that Ahlers is one to consider this week.

Oliver Fisher - To Win 50/1 & To Place 11/1
Oliver Wilson is one of those indisputable talents who may thrive in a week such as this. The 28-year-old from Essex has largely struggled on the professional arena. His only victory came at the Czech Open in 2011. He also had a runner-up finish at the 2014 Africa Open to Thomas Aiken. He only managed to secure his playing rights for 2017 with a closing 64 at the Portugal Masters last season.26th at the SA Open was followed by a 23rd in Abu Dhabi. He also finished 41st in Qatar. All those finishes could have been improved by more competitive performances in the closing rounds. He also shot a 62 in the third round of the Tshwane Open, indicating that his game could put him in contention this week, especially at the price.

The Man to Beat

Ricard Gouveia - To Win 14/1 & To Place 3/1
This could represent the best value that you may find all year on tour. Gouveia knows the Morgado course intimately and absolutely dominated the Challenge Tour in 2015. He finished his first full season on the European Tour last year in fine style. He had a tie for third at the newly fleshed out Nedbank Golf Challenge that catapulted him into the DP World Championship. The three-time winner on the Challenge Tour has finished inside the top 40 in his last three starts on the European Tour. He looked impressive in St Albans and surely is the best players in what is an extremely diluted field.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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