Phelan To Take Madeira Crown
Madeira Islands Open
The European Tour turns to Portugal this week as a decent field heads for the Madeira Open.
The European Tour returns to Europe this week with the Madeira 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. Two of the last three winners went on to be named as European Tour Rookie of the Year.
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
Justin Walters is joint antepost favourite this week after a string of solid performances on the South African leg of the European Tour, where he bagged three consecutive top-twenty-five finishes. But he has never won a European Tour title and his record in Madeira is poor. Although this is a weak event, it usually goes to a promising newcomer at a decent price and Walters doesn’t fit the bill. He’s not one to rely on and in a wide open tournament there are better bets to be had elsewhere.
Of those towards the top of the betting, Kevin Phelan has the most potential and offers more value than the favourites.
The young Irishman didn’t make much impact in his visit to Madeira in 2014, but a year of experience on the European Tour has made him a better player and earlier this month he produced his best performance to date when shooting an excellent final round of 66 to finish second at the Joburg Open.
Back him at 25/1 to go one better this week.
Last year, Renato Paratore became one of the youngest ever qualifiers for the European Tour and although he struggled on the South African leg of the Tour, he showed his potential prior to that when finishing in the top fifteen at the Dubai Desert Classic in February. The return to Europe could see him show his best form and at 33/1 in a wide open event, he is a tempting price to bag his first title.
The final name to add to your shortlist is Carlos Pigem, another player enjoying his first full season on the Tour after coming through Qualifying School. He showed signs of promise when breaking into the top ten in his second event of the year in Thailand and could be a player to follow this year. Back him at 33/1.