The European Tour gets back on schedule after a week off from regular, stroke-play golf. Last week was the debut of the Golf Sixes, a wonky team event that was won by Team Denmark (Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard).
For this week’s European Tour preview, we’re at the Open de Portugal, not to be confused with the end-of-year Portugal Masters. Likewise, we don’t have a field full of “masters”, but rather young guns trying to make their names on Tour. This is a co-sanctioned event between the European Tour and its Challenge Tour, so there aren’t too many familiar names in the field. Some guys that might be popular, just based on name value, are Paul Lawrie, Alviro Quiros, and Robert Rock. This year’s event will be played at a new venue: Morgado Golf Resort. Morgado measures around 7,400 yards, and seems to be open off-the-tee. This doesn’t tell us too much, other than wedge play (on the par-5s) and driving distance will be critical. I’m going to lean heavily on birdie-makers this week, and give a little boost to Portuguese (and Spanish) players back on home soil. There aren’t too many known commodities in the field, so try to limit yourself to players who have a bit of pedigree.
- Greens in Regulation %
- Birdie or Better %
- Scoring Average
- Driving Distance
Let’s look at my favorite plays this week:
Ricardo Gouveia ($11,600) – Gouveia burst onto the scene last season with several top-10 finishes, and flashed the kind of game you need to win on the main Tour. He played very well in the Golf Sixes last week with partner Jose-Felipe Lima, so I’m confident that form will carry over onto home soil this week. He’s mentioned that he’s played his course many times, so that’s a factor this week. He played very well in last year’s Portugal Masters, where he mentioned how enjoyable it was to play in front of the home galleries.
Trevor Fisher Jr. ($11,200) – Fisher has made his last six cuts on Tour, including 8th and 2nd place finishes in his past two starts. He’s a bit of a boom-or-bust candidate, so he’s a little worrisome as the field’s betting favorite. But the South African has been knocking on the door recently, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him breakthrough this week in Portugal. He shot a 2nd round 63 at last year’s Portugal Masters, which is a good sign for his comfort here.
Paul Lawrie ($10,100) – Lawrie is one of the known commodities in this field, and a savvy veteran. He’s been struggling recently, but broke through with a win on the Sunshine Tour in his last start. Lawrie finished 3rd at last year’s Portugal Masters, so there should be some positive memories returning to the country.
Aaron Rai ($9,900) – The young Englishman broke through with a victory in Kenya a couple of months ago, and has shown his pedigree. He’s a highly-touted player who could be the next in line to break through on the main Tour. He’s a dynamic birdie-maker who looks to make his mark on Tour in this weak field.
Jens Fahrbring ($8,200) – Fahrbring finished 12th at last year’s Portugal Masters, including opening rounds of 65 and 64. He’s shown a propensity for shooting low rounds and making birdies, so he’s exactly the type of player to target this week. The Swede comes into this week’s event in solid form, having posted back-to-back 13th place finishes in his past two starts.
Jaco Ahlers ($8,100) – Ahlers is a bomber who hails from South Africa, and a player who we target when the Tour was playing in his home country. He didn’t disappoint, so I’ll stay on board. Ahlers is a birdie-maker (and eagle-maker) who should rack up DraftKings points this week. He’s made eight of his past nine cuts worldwide, including two top-10 finishes.
Erik van Rooyen ($7,600) – Van Rooyen is another South African who we targeted on the home swing, but I’m willing to stay on his game here in Portugal. He isn’t the longest hitter, but that won’t hurt this week. He is always near the top of the field in greens in regulation, which is a huge pointer at any new course we play. He posted a top-10 in his last start, and won earlier this year in South Africa.
Laurie Canter ($7,400) – Canter advanced through European Tour Q-School not once, but twice. He’s got the fortitude to grind on the main Tour, and he flashed some really strong form to start 2017. He posted a string of 14th, 8th, and 16th place finishes to gain some valuable Race to Dubai points this season. He also finished 34th in his last start in Morocco, so he’s learning how to travel with his game around the globe. He fits the mold of what I’m targeting this week, as long as his putter is on point.
Jose-Felipe Lima ($7,200) – The other half of Portugal’s Golf Sixes team, Lima has had success on the main Tour in the past. He’s struggled with recent form the past couple of months, but he should benefit from home cooking this week. He played well last week with Gouveia as his partner, advancing past the knockout round. When most of the field is full of unknowns, Lima is one of those known commodities to target this week.
Richard Green ($6,700) – Another known commodity this week, Green is a savvy left-handed veteran from Australia. He randomly wins an event every few years, and seems to post just enough top-10 finishes to keep his status on the main Tour. Green is a great putter, which keeps him in the mix when his long game is struggling. He’s missed his past few cuts, but had shown some really strong form earlier this season.
Good luck this week!