Santos To Shine In Madeira?

One of only two events on the European Tour to be held in Portugal, the Madeira Open will feature a field of rookies so I look at where the value may lie in this preview.

The Tournament
The European Tour returns to Europe this week with the Madeira Islands Open, one of two events to be staged in Portugal. The tournament has one of the smallest prize funds in Europe and rarely attracts the world’s top players, but is dual-ranked with the Challenge Tour, so usually features a number of promising young players. The last two winners of this event went on to be named as European Tour Rookie of the Year.

The Course
The tournament returned to its original home, at the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra in 2012. At a touch over 6800 yards long, this is a short course with a mixture of wide open fairways, tight, tree-lined doglegs, and significant undulations. Accuracy is more important than power, but the course is not too demanding and the stiffest challenge is likely to come from the strong Atlantic gales.

In The Bunker
Englishman Oliver Fisher is the current second favourite on the antepost list, but I won’t be backing him this week. His strong performance at the Africa Open back in February was his best effort on the Tour since his sole win at the Czech Open in 2011, but he returned to more familiar form at the China Open last time, finishing outside the top thirty. He’s only played this course once, missing the cut in this event back in 2008 and at odds of 20/1 there is better value elsewhere.

Recommended Bets
Ricardo Santos tops the antepost betting and although there are a number of talented new players available at bigger odds, I think he’s worth a bet at 14/1. He’s had an ordinary season so far and finished down the field at the China Open last time, but there were encouraging signs in his final round 66, and he will have happy memories of this particular course, where he earned his first European Tour win in 2012.

Another Portugese player worth considering is Jordi Garcia Pinto. The current leader of the Challenge Tour, he finished second at the NH Collection Open ahead of some Tour regulars and continued his good form with a top ten finish at the Challenge de Catalunya last month. Nine of the previous winners of this tournament were claiming their first European Tour victory and Garcia Pinto is a prime candidate to become the tenth.

American Daniel Im is enjoying his first full season on the European Tour and could be a player to follow in the next few months. He has already managed top twenty-five finishes at the Africa Open and the Trophee Hassan II and this week he returns to the tournament where he finished twelfth last year, his best Tour result to date. At 50/1 he’s a decent outside bet to land his first Tour title.