While that third round score in 2003 did not count as a course record because preferred lies were in effect, the Welshman went on to win the event by a record margin of eight shots.Dredge is one of nine former champions present among one of the strongest fields in the tournament’s recent history, and the two-time European Tour winner cannot wait to get going on a Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra course which provided one of the greatest moments of his career.
“It’s always nice to be back here,” said the 39 year old. “It’s a great little island and the golf course is always improving so it’s great to be back.“One of the great memories I have from here was walking up the 16th and my caddie and I were actually trying to count how many under par I was. It’s not often you get a chance to do that!
“I birdied 16 to go 12 under and then had a good chance on 17 and on the last I was probably about 40 feet away so it was an outside chance of a 59 but unfortunately it just missed.“It was my first win on tour and I felt like I was starting to play better and better so it was nice to convert the chance that I had and win the tournament. Confidence-wise it was a big boost.”
Dredge proceeded to record the biggest victory of his career three years later at the Omega European Masters while also coming agonisingly close to two more massive wins, first at the 2007 Irish Open - when he was beaten by Padraig Harrington in a play-off – and then at his home championship the Wales Open two weeks later, where he finished a shot behind winner Richard Sterne.This year, Dredge is attempting to bounce back after a disappointing spell of form and after two events each on The European Tour and the Challenge Tour, he will see this week as a big opportunity to build some momentum again.
“The weather is a huge factor,” he said. “I remember it being quite good last year but obviously being so high up, anything can happen up here – hot or cold, sun or rain – so you have to be able to adapt to the weather conditions.“I have played four events this year and it hasn’t been great so far so I’m working on different things and hopefully it will improve as the year goes on.”
Dredge is one of nine former champions present this week, the others being Ricardo Santos (2012), Tano Goya (2009), Alastair Forsyth (2008), Daniel Vancsik (2007), Robert-Jan Derksen (2005), Niclas Fasth (2000), Jarmo Sandelin (1996) and Santiago Luna (1995).
Former Ryder Cup players in the field include Frenchman Thomas Level, Denmark’s Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson of England while multiple European Tour winners Nick Dougherty, Robert Rock and Grégory Bourdy will also feature.Tom Lewis, meanwhile, returns to the country where he claimed his maiden European Tour victory, at the 2011 Portugal Masters.