The Open de Portugal used to be one of the most highly anticipated events on the European Tour. In the 80s and 90s, players would be sure to add the tournament to their calendar as it had a very desirable mix of top class courses, healthy prize funds and beautiful settings.
Unfortunately, the tournament’s reputation declined pretty rapidly after the turn of the millennium and hasn’t been seen on any of the last six European Tour seasons. It does make its return this week but as very much a second string event. Scheduled up against the Players Championship on the PGA Tour, the Open de Portugal was never going to attract a stellar field so the decision was made for both the European and Challenge Tours to co-sanction the tournament. That provides Challenge Tour players with a huge opportunity but does mean that few top quality European Tour players have made the trip to the Algarve.
Perhaps anticipating the strength of the field that would assemble, the event organisers decided to host the Open de Portugal at Morgado Golf Resort. Resort courses are designed more for holiday makers than professional golfers so can often yield very low scores. That certainly looks likely this week as the course at Morgado Golf & Country Club measures just 6,400 yards. That’s as short a layout as you’ll ever find on the European Tour and with generous fairways and some pretty easy greens, we should be expecting a low score to go on and win.
The Stage is Set for Gouveia
One of the best things about last week’s Golf Sixes event was the way that players were able to form strong bonds with their teammates. You heard a lot of pros talking up the game of their partners but few were as fulsome in their praise as Jose-Felipe Lima was about Ricardo Gouveia.
Gouveia is widely regarded as one of the most promising young players on the European Tour. The 25-year-old has not yet been able to win in the big leagues but he does have three Challenge Tour titles. He can clearly get the job done against this calibre of opposition and the Open de Portugal would be a very special place for him to make his breakthrough. Gouveia grew up in the Algarve so will have plenty of fans in the galleries and he could so with the winner’s cheque as he’s about to get married. Everything points to a strong showing from the bookies’ favourite who is a best price of 18/1 with Sky Bet.
Rock’s Nous and Big Tournament Experience to See Him Through
Robert Rock knows a thing or two about competing on the European Tour. The 40-year-old has forged a successful career at the top level of European golf but has so far just found the step up to world class standard beyond him. Still, Rock makes the most of his experience by teaching the next generation of potential stars what’s required at his academies. This week, Rock’s got the chance to lead by example. He’s got the game for Morgado and the calibre to beat this field so back him each way at 50/1 with Coral.