One of the most popular events on the European Tour gets underway this week – and there will be an upgraded – and much tougher - golf course waiting for the players.
The week sees the Portugal Masters hit the European Tour, described by former champion Alvaro Quiros as “one of the best weeks of the year”.
Included in the field are star names such as Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace, Andy Sullivan and current Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington. Also in the field is Oliver Fisher, who famously bagged the first ever 59 on the European Tour last year in this event.
But, thanks for the course changes, the road to a second sub-60 round just got even harder.
As part of a wider €4.5million “development strategy” across Dom Pedro’s five championship courses in Vilamoura, the Victoria Course will be a tougher proposition this year for the players following its upgrade.
This includes the addition of a more resilient Common Bermuda grass to the rough and green surrounds. As a warm weather variant that uses water much more efficiently, this will allow greens staff at the Dom Pedro-owned venue to alter the line of the fairways more easily and present the course in tournament-ready condition – both during the event and all year round.
Working closely with the European Tour, the upgrade has seen the strategic addition of new trees across three holes on the front nine. Intended to prevent the longest hitters from cutting the corners of dog-legs on the second, fifth (both down the left-hand side) and tenth (down the right-hand side, after the bunker), this will have an even greater bearing as the trees mature in the years ahead.
Simao da Cunha, head of golf operations at Dom Pedro, said: “We have worked very closely with the European Tour to improve the condition of the Victoria Course to provide a more complete test for both professionals and amateurs. This is part of a wider development programme that, with the addition of further trees and the strategic repositioning of bunkers in the years ahead, will establish the Victoria Course as one of the best in Europe.”
An all-new irrigation system has been installed this year that is 23-per cent more efficient, saving 61.26 tonnes of CO2 and a staggering 177,000 kW every 12 months. Working closely with Grundfos, a market leading supplier of water pump solutions, the Dom Pedro system’s performance has been so impressive that it is now being sold across Portugal – further proof of the lengths the destination is going to in order to present the Victoria Course at its best for the Portugal Masters.
In addition to the new-look course, there will be live music, bars, street food vendors and golf challenges available to all spectators.
“The Portugal Masters really is an all-in-one experience for people of all ages,” said Peter Adams, the tour’s championship director of the Portugal Masters. “We have worked closely with the venue and local suppliers to ensure that this year’s tournament will be a feast of golf and entertainment.”