The 57° Open de Portugal @ Morgado Golf Resort gets under way in the Portuguese sunshine this week and we have picked out five things to keep an eye on ahead of the tournament’s start.
Matt Wallace has established himself as a household name in the golfing world having won multiple European Tour titles, competed in Major Championships and currently sits 30th in the Official World Golf Ranking, however his journey to stardom started at Morgado Golf Resort. The Englishman posted rounds of 63-66-73-69 in Portugal to earn victory ahead of Julian Suri, who finished three shots adrift in second place. With his win, Wallace earned immediate graduation to the European Tour with the 2017 edition of the event having been dual-ranking between the two tours.
It has been a good year for Portuguese sport, with the national football team triumphing in the UEFA Nations League and the successful GolfSixes Cascais in June. The Challenge Tour has also witnessed Portuguese prowess during the 2019 season. Ricardo Santos ended a seven-year wait for a title by winning the Swiss Challenge Presented by Swiss Golf, before compatriot José-Filipe Lima returned to the winner’s circle with his victory at the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge in August.
Road to Mallorca
The race for a spot in the top 15 on the Road to Mallorca Rankings is hotting up with the current inhabitants doing all they can to keep their place, while a plethora of others are plotting their way to break into those life-changing positions. During the first half of the season, a victory was enough to slide into the top 15, however with a run of good results now resulting in a healthier position in the upper echelons of the Rankings, triumphing at one tournament does not necessarily equate to automatic entry. Sebastian Heisele and Dale Whitnell – the two most recent winners on the Challenge Tour – both lie outside the top 15 at present, meaning they will have to build on their victories if they are to earn a European Tour card.
The Fantastic Four
There may be seven events left on the Road to Mallorca, but for many players the season will end after the next four. This week’s tournament in Portugal marks the beginning of an important four-event stretch which will determine who will earn a spot in the co-sanctioned Hainan Open and Foshan Open – where the field is split between the Challenge Tour and the China Tour - and subsequently the Challenge Tour Grand Final, where the top 45 players will battle it out for a European Tour card.
For the third year in succession, Morgado Golf Resort hosts the Open de Portugal with the course in finer shape than ever. Morgado Golf Course has the features of a links course, but instead of being close to the sea, is placed in an area of parkland which, despite its location, receives harsh winds from the coast which is situated just a few kilometres away. The course has been closed to the public for five weeks which has allowed the greenkeepers to prepare it thoroughly, with the fairways in perfect condition and the rough nice and thick, offering a real test to this week’s field.