Ahead of the European Tour’s return to Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Portugal, we bring you a selection of story lines to look out for at this week’s Portugal Masters.
Europe’s Mr. 59
Oliver Fisher made history during the second round of the 2018 Portugal Masters when he carded the European Tour’s first sub-60 round. The Englishman recorded ten birdies and an eagle in his bogey-free 12 under par 59, with a tap-in par on the final hole all that was required to sign his name into the European Tour history books.
The Englishman could have gone even lower, with his birdie putt on the 18th green sliding past the edge of the hole. Fisher is the only player in the history of the European Tour to record golf’s magic number, although Frenchman Adrien Mörk and Italian Nicolò Ravano have achieved the rare milestone on the European Challenge Tour.
Two players have also joined the exclusive 60-club at Dom Pedro Victoria, with Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts both achieving the feat in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Seven years after Tom Lewis clinched his maiden victory in just his third professional start on the European Tour, the Englishman would regain the Portugal Masters crown after recording the biggest 54-hole comeback of the 2018 season.
Lewis closed with three spectacular rounds of 63-61-66 after a level par opening day to finish three shots clear of Lucas Herbert and Eddie Pepperell, securing his first European Tour triumph since his 2011 Portugal Masters victory.
The win underlined a fantastic return to form for the youngest ever Portugal Masters champion, who just two weeks earlier had also been victorious on the Challenge Tour. Lewis will bring plenty of confidence to his bid for back-to-back titles, with the World Number 63 coming into the event off the back of a string of good results, including a tied fifth finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this month.
Final counting event…
The battle to secure playing rights for the 2020 season reaches its climax this week, with the top 117 players in the Race to Dubai following the Portugal Masters set to retain their European Tour card for next year.
Only 0.7 points separate Jack Singh Brar, who occupies 117th position, and his closest rival Paul Dunne, who currently sits just outside the provisional cut off for 2020 membership.
Among those looking to make a timely climb up the rankings this week include Alexander Levy (122nd), Bernd Ritthammer (126th) and Jeunghun Wang (119th).
13 - Lucky For Some
For the 13th consecutive year, the Portugal Masters will be staged at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura on the sunny Algarve. The venue has hosted every edition of the tournament since the inaugural contest in 2007, although the players will be faced with a slightly tougher test when they return this week following an extensive course upgrade.
It isn’t only the venue that remains the same this year, with the European Disabled Golf Association again announced as the event’s Official Charity for the fourth consecutive year. Funds raised from tournament draw sheet sales, a longest drive competition sponsored by Golfbreaks and a raffle, will go towards the charity, as they aim to help more than half a million people living with a disability try the sport of golf.
Roll of Honour
Former World Number One Lee Westwood is one of five Englishmen to have tasted success at the Portugal Masters, having won the event in 2009 by two strokes from Francesco Molinari. The course clearly suits the eye of Lewis, the defending champion, but also a winner in 2011, and has proved favourable for Ryder Cup player Andy Sullivan in 2015.
With two former Irish champions, and Australian, Danish, French, and Spanish players holding one victory apiece, there is yet to be a homegrown winner. The highest ranked national players in the field, Ricardo Gouveia and Pedro Figueiredo, will be hoping to change that this week, as they look to add a Portuguese flavour to the tournament’s list of champions.