The European Tour takes a step closer to mainland Europe this week with the Madeira Islands Open. The beautiful Portuguese island is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa. A mixture of European Tour professionals and players who play most of their golf on the Challenge Tour will be competing around the Santo de Serra Golf Club with its 6,800 yard course full of humps, bumps and undulating greens.
Given the amount of travelling that the European Tour has done recently – following from the Desert Swing it co-sanctioned events in the Far East, India and South Africa – it is no surprise to see a fairly different field this week compared to last. The bookies seem to be having some trouble pricing the event up as the top 20 or so players have fairly interchangeable prices. Depending on your levels of optimism, that means it will either be difficult to pick a winner this week or that there is some serious value hiding in the outright markets.
We begin the picks for the week with the Irishman, Peter Lawrie. Lawrie didn’t have a good time of it in the two South African events he played in, missing two cuts but he fared better in India, Malaysia and the Middle East. The one-time European Tour winner had to withdraw from the Madeira Islands Open last year and has only one top 10 finish in three years. However, his form has improved in general and he has the sort of plotting game to do well around Santo de Serra. You are well advised to do some shopping around on his price as it varies wildly, but at the time of writing he is best-priced at 66/1 with Bet365. Take that, or better if you can find it, to each-way terms.
Next up, let’s have a look at John Hahn. Hahn is something of a rarity being an American who plays most of his golf on the European Tour. This is only his second time playing in Portugal and his first time at Santo de Serra but he can certainly finish in the top five places at odds of 66/1 with Ladbrokes. One of Hahn’s strengths is his power off the tee, he won’t be able to hit the driver on all of the longer holes here as a more defensive strategy is favoured, but he can utilise his distance to hit shorter irons into more greens than many of his competitors. That control will allow him to place himself sensibly on the greens and nullify the threats posed by the various slopes.
The final player to back each-way this week is S.S.P. Chowrasia. The Indian golfer went off at very short odds on the final day of his home tournament but the pressure got the better of him. He shot his worst round of the week with a 76 and then lost in a play-off. However, the only way to improve in those situations is to experience them so he can take the positives from that and use his careful, safety first strategy to good effect this week. He learnt his golf on short, tight courses which will stand him in good stead around Santo de Serra. That makes BetVictor’s 40/1 on him good value indeed.