The host venue this week is the Morgado Golf & Country Club, located in Portimão, Portugal. Let’s get to the picks.
Ricardo Gouveia ($11,600): Gouveia is the favorite in the field this week and a player who is definitely a cut above the rest. The young Portuguese player was a standout on the Challenge Tour a couple of seasons ago and has already posted some great finishes on the main tour, including a T3 in a stacked playoff field last year. Gouveia also gets the hometown bump here as he’s played the host venue numerous times and should be well supported. Not a player I’d recommend fading this week.
Jeff Winther ($8,500): Winther has made four of five cuts thus far on the season, a run which includes a couple of top 25 finishes on the African swing. The Dane hasn’t played a ton in 2017 (and sat out last week), but that could be a good thing, especially considering his decent start to the season. Winther’s been posting good results in fields much stronger than this one all year so, at $8,500, you’re getting upside at a decent price-tag.
Robert Rock ($8,400): Rock is definitely a veteran to take note of this week, as he has a better resume than most of the players in this field. Even though the two-time Euro winner doesn’t have anything better than a T26 to his name in 2017 (in Malaysia), he has played well in Portugal over his career, including a T5 from last year’s Portugal Masters (different course from this week, though). The recent form isn’t great, but in this field, if he was playing at the top of his game recently he’d likely be $12k. This price here makes Rock a fine target in what is essentially a minor league event.
Florian Fritsch ($8,000): Fritsch might be the most interesting golfer in this tournament simply because he has a fear of flying which stops him from attending any events not attached to mainland Europe. What makes him even more interesting is the fact that even with this huge handicap he still has put up decent results, including two top-10 finishes over his last five starts. There may be some rust, but he’ll also be fresh and ready to attack a weaker field event this week. You have to like him for his decision to play through his phobia anyway.
Matthew Baldwin ($7,200): Baldwin hasn’t played much this season but a T9 in his last two starts at the Kenya Challenge Tour event is encouraging. He also made the cut last year at the Portugal Masters and should feel comfortable in the field given he has plenty of experience and top finishes from the main tour at much bigger events than this. At $7,200 he’s good value for the consistency he should bring to a field that is certainly full of a lot of unknown quantities.
Austin Connelly ($7,000): A talented and young Canadian who is only 20, Connelly has decided to make his name on the European Tour due to a lack of status in the States. He’s come up cold recently but does have a T9 from Perth to his credit already. In a weaker field, this is the type of event where I would expect Connelly to show up in. At $7,000, he’s probably more of a straight GPP play but a player to consider nonetheless.
Joel Stalter ($6,800): He should be coming in with a lot of confidence as he posted one of his best finishes of the year his last time out in Morocco with a T19 on a tough course. This is Stalter’s first full season on the big tour, and it has gone decently thus far as he’s accumulated four top 25 finishes already. He also has a win on the Challenge Tour to his credit from last season, so he is fully capable of taking down a field like the one he’ll see this week. He’s my favorite play under $7k.
Zander Lombard ($6,500): Lombard can be a bit streaky, but he has better upside than almost any of the other players in this range. The young South African’s best finish to date in 2017 is only a T22, but he did post four finishes of T7 or better in full field Euro events last season. This field shouldn’t intimidate him at all, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he inserted himself into the mix at some point. At only $6,500 he’s definitely an interesting GPP target, although I wouldn’t venture too far down the field this week in cash games if possible.
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