Ahead of the Madeira Islands Open - Portugal - BPI, europeantour.com stats man Steve Doughty picks out his five to watch out for this week at Clube de Golf do Santo de Serra.
Graduated from the 2013 European Tour Qualifying School and has equipped himself with a lot of credit so far. Currently 93rd in The Race to Dubai. Has produced a string of solid finishes, the best being a tied ninth in the Africa Open. Was also tied 11th in the Trophée Hassan II. Has made the cut in all nine events this season, with five top 25 finishes. Looking to be the second rookie to win this season, following Marco Crespi at the NH Collection Open. Could be in contention even though this will be his first outing over the Santo da Serra venue. No Dane has won in Maderia before.
Almost claimed his second European Tour title but lost out in a play-off to Thomas Aiken in the 2014 Africa Open. Although not fully exempt on The European Tour for 2014, the Englishman has produced some fine results. Apart from his runner-up finish, he was tied sixth in the NH Collection Open. Was tied 36th on his last outing at the Volvo China Open. Is the highest ranked player in the current Race to Dubai competing this week in 48th, having amassed over €200,000 from his nine events, making eight cuts, which has gone a long way to securing his playing rights for next season. However, a victory here this week would see become a fully exempt member once again. Was second to James Morrison in Madeira in 2010 but this was over the Porto Santo GC.
Has made an encouraging start to life on The European Tour, since gaining his card at The European Tour Qualifying School in 2013. The French rookie has enjoyed some solid performances with a tie for sixth being his best at the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa. His more recent form has been steady; a tie for 25th in the Trophée Hassan II and was tied 20th last time out on the Challenge Tour, at the Challenge de Catalunya, last week. Should he win he would become the fifth first-time winner in the past six seasons, dating back to 2009 of the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI.
Is the home favourite. The Portuguese is one of seven former winners taking part this week, having claimed the title in 2012. He is one of four players to taste success over the Santo da Serra layout. Bradley Dredge (2003), Daniel Vancsik (2007) and Alastair Forsyth (2008) being the other three. His winning total of 266 (-22) is the lowest in the event’s 22 year history. He finished a very creditable tied 19th in his defence last year. His form in 2014 has been pretty consistent. Has made nine of his 11 cuts this season, yielding one top ten at the NH Collection Open. Has found his best consistency so far this season, with a tie for tenth, a tie for 18th and a share of 36th in his last three tournaments.
Although having played only four tournaments this season across The European and Challenge Tour, he has made all four cuts, showing his game in not too far away. Has a best of tied 17th at the Barclays Kenya Open. Will be able to feed off good vibes from previous visits to Santo da Serra. The Englishman was fourth in 2012, 21st in 2006 and 25th in 2007.
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