Bernd Wiesberger Portugal Masters
The European Tour returns this week to the Algarve, for the Portugal Masters, which takes place at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Club in Vilamoura. The Arnold Palmer designed 7,209yd Par 71 track, has been the venue for this event since its inception in 2007, and is essentially a resort course, with wide fairways and generous undulating greens. It is quite exposed, and features several well placed water hazards, especially on the risk and reward Par 5 17th hole, and the very demanding Par 4 final hole (in running punters take note!) Previous winning scores indicate this is very much a birdie fest, and I expect more of the same, with the possibly of the course being softened by thunderstorms which are forecast this week.
From a punting angle, another close call for us last week, with our nap Tommy Fleetwood narrowly touched off by huge outsider Oliver Wilson, who traded at the max 999-1 on Betfair for over a hundred quid! After a slow start, and the misfortune of being paired in the same group as the very distracting funnyman Bill Murray at Kingsbarns on Friday, Fleetwood played St Andrews in an amazing 14 under par at the weekend, but at least Freebets landed a nice tasty each way punt at 28-1.
My strong fancy this week is the big hitting Bernd Wiesberger, who arrives here in good nick after a solid Tied 14th place finish in the Dunhill Links. He has played consistently well since his excellent Tied 15th place finish in the USPGA at Valhalla, where he was paired with eventual winner Rory Mcilroy in the final pairing on Sunday. The fiery Austrian has already proven with his 4th place finish here in 2012, and Tied 3rd place last year, that this resort type layout very much suits his attacking style of play. If he can get his putter warm this week, I expect him to be in the mix come The business end of the tournament.
Another player who has shown a definite liking to this track is the lanky Swede Robert Karlsson. The 45 year old Tour veteran has played in this event four times, and has posted 2nd place finishes in both 2007 and 2010, and a Tied 3rd place in 2008. He showed real signs last week (Tied 14th), that he was returning to the sort of form which saw him post top 10 finishes in both the high quality French Open and Scottish Open in July, as well as a Tied 12th place in the Open Championship at Hoylake.
My final fancy is the soon to be retired Robert Jan Derksen, who will play till the end of the current season. At the grand old age of 40, he has rather strangely decided to call time on his successful European Tour career, which has earned him a tidy 5.7 million Euros! The genial Dutchman is in decent form, with Tied 11th place finishes in both the recent KLM Open, and in the Dunhill Links last week, which included a nine under round of 63 in difficult conditions at Carnoustie. He has shown a distinct liking for this venue, with several good finishes, including a Tied 8th place finish here last year, and this tidy player represents solid each way value this week.