Victorious Ryder Cup captain leads the charge at Vilamoura
The 13th Portugal Masters welcomes another fantastic field of top-class, international golfers to Vilamoura. At the time of print, the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course was already prepared for players, fans and media from all over the world to enjoy the iconic Algarve setting and one of the last qualifying events in the Race to Dubai.
The Race to Dubai spans the entire season, over 46 events in 31 countries and four continents, to crown the European Tour’s number 1 player. The season’s closing events provide players with final opportunities to impact on the tournament. As the 2019 Portugal Masters is staged in October, a stellar field is guaranteed as the season nears its conclusion. Celebrating the global connectivity of Dubai and the European Tour, the list of champions since 2009 reads like a who’s who of modern-era greats, including three-time winner Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson with two titles, as well as Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and most recently Francesco Molinari. Points are accumulated based on prize money won, with the top five ranked players at the end of the season sharing a $5 million bonus pool.
More great news for the 13th edition of the Portugal Masters is that victorious Ryder Cup captain, Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn returns to the event after a four-year absence. Bjørn led Europe to 2018 Ryder Cup triumph in Paris over the United States, with a stunning 17.5-10.5 victory. Afterwards he paid tribute to his team: “They are quality golfers, putting their stamp on the world scene and there are a couple on this team that are right on the way to the top of the game over the next few years.” Bjørn clearly relishes returning to the Portugal Masters, as he recently explained: “I have fond memories of Portugal, including my victory nearly 10 years ago at the 2010 Portuguese Open. I’m looking forward to coming back in October.”
The Portugal Masters, which enjoys a deserved reputation for top-quality golf and high drama, presented another wonderful tournament last year. England’s Tom Lewis produced the biggest 54-hole comeback of the season to become the event’s first ever two-time champion, following rounds of 63, 61, and 66, after returning 72 on the opening day. Lewis, who first won this event in 2011, finished three shots clear of compatriot Eddie Pepperell and Australia’s Lucas Herbert. Last year will also be remembered for Oliver Fisher’s history-making round of 59. Since the European Tour’s formation in 1972, there had been 19 rounds of 60 carded, but never the sub-60 barrier in more than 690,000 rounds. Fisher’s historic round included 10 birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free 12 under par round.
In addition to the world-class golf, there are plenty of activities for families to enjoy in the Championship Village. Attractions include the junior golf facilities for children from local schools and golf clubs, a Callaway Challenge, the Colour Path Golf putting challenge, and free lessons from PGA professionals. Championship director Peter Adams has summed up the overall sense of great expectations for yet another fantastic occasion: “We are all very excited for this year’s Portugal Masters. Since the event joined the European Tour’s International Schedule in 2007, this tournament has proved very popular with players and spectators alike. Being played in October, it gives one of the last opportunities for points on the Race to Dubai rankings. We look forward to welcoming a strong field to Dom Pedro Victoria and we are anticipating another exciting edition of the Portugal Masters.”
The European Disabled Golf Association (EDGA) also features at Dom Pedro Victoria, increasing the profile of the sport for golfers with a disability. The first EDGA Scottish Open ran at The Renaissance Club in July, and a second tournament will be staged at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The EDGA is also launching a Portuguese translation of their book Mulligan, which is also featured in this edition of Clubhouse Algarve.
The stage is now set for 2019 to provide yet another fantastic Portugal Masters, and the 13th edition again promises a high-quality field of international golfing stars vying to join the names of past, illustrious winners already adorning the magnificent trophy.