- Rhys Davies 1 point each-way @ 90-1 (advised on Twitter)
- Pedro Figueiredo 0.5 points each-way @ 200-1
- Pedro Figueiredo 1 point top-10 @ 22-1
- Tiago Cruz 0.25 points each-way @ 500-1
- Tiago Cruz 1 point top-20 @ 16-1
- Tiago Cruz 0.25 pts e-w First Round Leader @ 250-1
***Since the article was written, we now know there has been yardage added to the course. Given the wide fairways I am still sticking to the bets above but there well be halfway bets if the course appears to differ significantly***
So as golf gets sillier by the season, now with team events replacing singles on the PGA, Golf6 nonsense and a version of Matchplay9 coming up next week, we have a co-sanctioned event with the European and Challenge Tours, betting headed by the world number 208.
I have no problem whatsoever with Ricardo Gouveia, who did me more than one favour when winning the Race To Oman in 2015, but either this is a CT event or not, and shoving in an early lucrative event after just two tournaments in six weeks seems bizarre. Win money here is the equivalent to at least two on the CT proper whilst 10th place prize money is more than double the players would expect on 95% of weeks.
The shortened field at the Rolex and increased money is perfectly understandable, as are the rewards at the end of a hard season, and The Players is on but here, from nowhere……..anyway.
From a positive slant, Portugal is always a good event. The region is known for good golf from holiday-makers to professional players, and will no doubt be a classy affair for the contestants with possibly better fairways and greens than many of the less-experienced will have encountered.
As for the course itself, we may well need the forecast wind and rain because a par-73 6399 yard course screams a winning score of between 25 and 30 under the card. With five par-5s no longer than 535 yards, open fairways and large greens, this could turn into a putting contest and makes this a very open event despite the obvious class difference between top and bottom of the pile.
Gouveia has understandably been well backed this week. Winner of three events in 2015 at this level, he also boasts plenty of experience round this venue. It is my belief that local knowledge helps a lot, and his win here on the Algarve Pro Golf Tour in 2015 came courtesy of a second round 65 (overall 11-under) and that’s the sort of score needed to compete this week. Taking a big drop in class and with huge positive thoughts, he has to compete even if looking little value at around 14-1.
Trevor Fisher Jnr struggles to win in Europe but recent putting stats are very impressive if he can repeat that home form, whilst Paul Lawrie will enjoy and wind and rain but is surely too short at sub-30 despite a recent win in South Africa and on the Algarve circuit.
Of the top lot, I’m expecting demon putter and ante-post R2O pick Aaron Rai to compete throughout and he will need a top-10 to keep his head clear of the rest in the rankings. I’m happy to let him do that though especially as decent cases can be made for fellow improvers Max Orrin and Ryan Evans.
In the absence of a player-by-player preview which isn’t happening as it would be torture for you and I, the player that stood out when the books opened was Rhys Davies, and I’m happy to go back in on him at the 80-1 if you missed the initial 90.
We were on the excellent Welsh putter in Turkey and whilst that was a while ago, I won’t go over the same ground. Expected to improve on an opening 5th in Kenya, it looks at first as though a 38th place finish was very average.
Okay, this wasn’t what we were looking for but examining the event makes interesting reading. 6-under through his first nine, it was a huge shock to see a birdie-less 4-over coming home and from a ‘certain’ challenge, he trod ground for the next 18. Game over, our man then made significant ground through his opening nine on day three, 4-under before a double-bogey at the par-5 9th killed off any hope just as he was coming to challenge the leaders.
Having backed the 31-year-old more times than any other player I can recall, that was an unusually poor set of holes and I would expect far better on a course that should suit his style. Almost always tidy and with a cracking iron game, this putting contest will be right up his street given three of his wins were low-scoring affairs – 17-under, 25-under and 22-under. Unlike a few here who play their majority of golf over two or three rounds, Davies has plenty of experience and will be looking to go low each day.
I can see why Ricardo Santos is fancied by the bookmakers but compared to some, he looks awfully short.
That isn’t to say I don’t like any of the home players. Indeed, I have gone along with two golfers that have more than enough experience of area and course in the hope the price under-estimates their chance.
Pedro Figueiredo hasn’t shown much on the main tours, but if he is ever to fulfill the promise shown by his early career, it will be here.
Following a stellar amateur career at home and considered one of the best in the world, ‘Figgy’ won the 2008 Boys Amateur Championship (won also by Rhys, Tom Lewis and Matthew Fitzpatrick) before studying in Atlanta. Winless for a few years, it wasn’t until 2016 that he found his form, winning twice on the Algarve Tour including beating the likes of Santos. Indeed, when victorious in the Grand Final he commented that the course has ‘six holes of par-5, four of them quite short and I got to take advantage of those holes. Today was a windy day, it was not easy, but I tend to get along with the wind and felt comfortable’. That sounds familiar to the course he might expect this week and put that together with numerous recent placed efforts on the PGT tour and crucially two wins on his home tour Tour in 2017, including winning the Morgado Classic, round here in February, and the prices for many bets just looked far too big.
Back up Figgy with another course winner in the shape Tiago Cruz, who is available at monster prices.
I’m certainly not going in head-first about a man who hasn’t shown much at all at this level since a few top-10s in the late 2000s, but with a stand-out effort being 10th in Madeira in 2015, he was worth a look and decent hope can be derived from his home form, ranking top in 2015/16. However, two wins this year including here in the Morgado Classic II just a couple of weeks after Figgy’s win (by four shots over two rounds, fourteen birdies one bogey), give more credence to the exotic bets even if the admittedly speculative each-way punt doesn’t materialise.
Okay, this course is said to be slightly longer than the one used through the Algarve season, although I can find little to suggest the actual figures. The hoi-poloi suggest that the greens will be firmer than these regular players are used to, but that may be negated by the forecast wins and storms. In a minefield where Ruaidhri McGee, Mikael Lundberg, Tom Lewis, Garrick Porteous and Marcus Armitage were just ruled out, I’ll take a poke with a couple of bigger prices with enough evidence to suggest they are under-estimated once the top twenty or so are removed.