Golf: Three contenders to claim Portugal Masters glory


EUROPEAN Tour golf specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) returns to share his thoughts on the upcoming Portugal Masters.

Portugal Masters | 21st-25th September 2017 | Sky Sports

The last couple of weeks have been a case of how many 20th-40th-placed finishes can we rack up. The answer is, quite a few.

All of them have had good rounds mixed with poor rounds so I’m fairly happy with the picks made just not quite hitting the consistency needed round-to-round. Hopefully I can find a few able to put together four good rounds at the Portugal Masters.

Course background

This is the 11th renewal – all played at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course – so there’s plenty of data to look at. There are a few things that stand out when looking at the stats the winners have produced.

The last five champions average putting rank has been 2.80 so it’s an essential part of the game. That’s backed up by the winning scores being on average -19.6. If you go back and add the first five renewals too, that’s go up to -20.4.

If you can’t hit birdies consistently over all four days, it’ll be tough to be up with the pace.

The other thing that stands out is that the last four winners have all ranked in the top-two in scrambling. Shane Lowry bucked that trend a little in 2012 ranking 40th but the other parts of his game were very good.

So straight away I’m looking at the putting performances of the field over the last 4/5 weeks to try and find clues before trying to add in scrambling stats, possible course form and recent form.

The field is pretty weak though, which makes things tricky. A big-priced winner is a possibility but finding the right player(s) is guesswork, to be honest. I could have had 50 attempts and not picked out Romain Wattel last week, for example.

Instead I’ve gone with a couple of shorter prices and just the one outsider that match up nicely.

Andy Sullivan (20/1 Ladbrokes)

First up though, I’m ignoring everything I said about stats and getting Andy Sullivan onboard. The sole reason being, his course form.

Last year he was second on -22 behind an impeccable Padraig Harrington and the year before blew everyone else away to win by nine shots on -23. That’s a total of -45 in his last eight rounds on this course and can’t be ignored regardless of form.

I was surprised to see him open up at 22/1, that’s disappeared but even a low of 16/1 that’s available at time of writing is just about OK, meaning Sulli is worth having onside.

The reason he’s that big will be his form – it’s not terrible by any means – but it isn’t great either. A couple of top-10s and a handful of top-20s is as good as it gets. He made a return last week after a month off following the USPGA and missed the cut but that’s of no real concern.

Hopefully, the rust has been shaken off and this is the one that’s been targeted given the record here.

George Coetzee (33/1 BetBright)

Five South Africans have won on tour so far this season and I’m hoping another could get the W this week with George Coetzee at 33/1 (BetBright).

He had five top-10’s in nine starts earlier in the season but has dipped off over the summer before picking up third last week. In doing so, he ranked 16th in putting and the week before he was even better in that stat but missed the cut as the other parts of his game weren’t up to scratch.

Overall, the South African ranks 21st on tour for the season so the flat stick has been consistent. If he can get those other bits of his game going for a second week in a row he could go close.

Has some course form, a record of 3-6-21-31 in his four appearances, which is a bonus.

Matt Wallace (80/1 Bet365)

Matt Wallace won the other tournament to be played in Portugal earlier this year, the Open de Portugal back in May. Backing a lower ranked player to win for a second time in a season doesn’t hold much appeal normally but Wallace could be worth it.

That win was just his third European Tour event, an impressive feat even if the field was weak. The youngster from London understandably hasn’t carried that on but signs are there that his form is back on track.

He’s made the cut in each of the last four weeks – including a 12th in Denmark and 10th last week at the KLM. Both putting and scrambling have been very good in those tournaments.

If he carries on where he left of last week, the 80/1 (Bet365) that’s available will look very good.

Best Bets

Portugal Masters – Andy Sullivan (20/1 each-way Ladbrokes)

Portugal Masters – George Coetzee (33/1 each-way BetBright)

Portugal Masters – Matt Wallace (80/1 each-way Bet365)

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