One of Portugal’s most prestigious golf tournaments takes place in October at Vilamoura in the Algarve and made its debut on the European Tour in 2007. English players boast a particularly strong record in this event; Steve Webster won the inaugural edition, Tom Lewis became the tournament’s first dual winner when claiming the title in 2011 and 2018, and Jordan Smith set a new course record when carding 30 under par to claim victory in the 2022 event.
The Arnold Palmer-designed Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course has played host to the event throughout its lifetime. A predominantly flat track, the course is exposed to the elements, placing an emphasis on an ability to handle the wind if the Atlantic breeze becomes particularly blustery. In general, despite the challenges of the enormous undulating greens, this is a low-scoring course which rewards length off the tee, with the wide fairways favouring power over accuracy.
|2022||Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course||Jordan Smith|
|2021||Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course||Thomas Pieters|
2022: Jordan Smith
The Portugal Masters is always a very important tournament as golfers give all they have to try and earn their DP World Tour playing privileges for the following season. It is, therefore, a very stressful event. Unless you’re Jordan Smith that is, at the 2022 Portugal Masters.
Smith arrived in the Algarve very happy and confident about the shape of his game and it showed right from the start. Looking for his second win on the DP World Tour, Smith set the tone with a superb opening round of 62. A second round of 67 was a little concerning given his previous brilliance and the low scoring elsewhere in the field, but he followed that up with rounds of 62 and 63 to secure a very impressive winning score of -30.
It was only the quality of Joost Luiten’s golf that kept Smith honest at the top of the leaderboard. Luiten could only get as close as to within three shots of Smith, with Tapio Pulkkanen a further five shots behind. Despite the comfort of his win Smith was very emotional, breaking down in tears after holing the winning putt. Explaining the emotion, Smith said: “It’s just nice to finally get this second win.” At least some golfers find that second win tough!
2021: Thomas Pieters
Like every first time dad, having a child has had a huge impact on Thomas Pieters. The Belgian’s technical prowess and physical abilities have never been in doubt but, by his own admission, his mentality has not always been right. The way that he stuck to his task at the 2021 Portugal Masters to see out his fifth European Tour win suggests that this new, more serene Pieters could be about to really fulfil his potential.
The task at hand for Pieters coming into the week was to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship. He couldn’t afford to let himself to worry about the future though, not when the job at hand was to see off the challenge of Matthieu Pavon, Nicolai Hojgaard and Lucas Bjerregaard.
Pieters didn’t have his best stuff at the start of his round but gathered his composure to get back on track. He had to do so again when he found the water off the tee on the 14th. It helped that Pavon had his own water problems and Pieters knew that his mistake hadn’t cost him the tournament. It was all done when Pieters made an up and down for par on the 18th. He’ll have to be more convincing when in contention in the future but this was a very good week for Pieters who looks very much on the up. After seeming like a certainty for major success following his stellar performance in the 2016 Ryder Cup his game went downhill but hopefully he can get back inside the world’s top 40 once again.