Golf: Portugal Masters Picks 2012

Switching to the European Tour this week on Nicspicks in the shape of the Portugal Masters after a near miss for the blog last week in America. 66/1 Brendon De Jonge just fell short against tournament favourite Ryan Moore but we had a 50/1 winner in Brandon Grace over on my Unibet golf column to add to De Jonge's place returns and I'm hoping that will be the catalyst for a great end to the season, just as we had last year

I'm running a tipping competition this week for the Portugal Masters and; free to enter with a £25 bet to the winner complimentary of StanJames. Picks to be sent to my Twitter feed.

The Oceanico golf course at Vilamoura is the venue for the Portugal Masters and with rough usually down on the exposed Victoria golf course, the big hitters will be the primary focus for my picks this week. There are four reachable par fives and one, possibly two(on certain days) short par fours where the bombers can take advantage. Large undulating greens will be the dominant theme and accurate iron players plus those hot with the putter should prevail in another low scoring event.

Portugal Masters Picks

Pick #1: Alex Noren ew @ 33/1 (Ladbrokes) is a regular feature through the years on Portugal Masters leaderboards. He ranks 13th in putts per GIR on the European tour this year and his high ball flight will benefit him on the undulating greens. Noren, unsurprisingly, has a combined average of 20th position across the last five Portugal Masters events (which includes a final round 62 in 09) and comes here off the back of a solo third place at the Alfred Dunhill pro-am.

Pick #2: Henrik Stenson e/w @ 40/1 (Skybet) is a player who's been off the radar for some time now but sinces his mini comeback to the European Tour this season he's posted sneaky top tens in four of the last six regular season events (excluding the Open). Henrik can throw in the odd errant tee shot which can cost him both in terms of the hole he's playing and in terms of letting his temper get the better of him for the next few holes, but with room to play with around the exposed Vilamoura track, he could be a dark horse at the Portugal Masters this week. Can go birdie crazy on any given day.

Pick #3: George Coetzee ew @ 28/1 (general) comes into the event off the back of a final round -10 at St.Andrews on Sunday. The big hitting South African placed T3 here at the 2011 Portugal Masters and as shown last week, can go super low when the putter is hot. If the rough is down as per usual, Coetzee can attack pins and over power this course. Compatriot Brandon Grace's success at the Alfred Dunhill may have whetted the appetite for George.

Pick #4: Thomas Aiken e/w @ 55/1(SJ) is another South African who may have that added edge and draw inspiration from Grace's success last week and again, he looks a perfect fit for the Oceanico course. Aiken hasn't been in great form this year but a top ten at the Open championship followed up by a couple of top 30s while showing progressive form the last two events is enough to convey that he's simmering just now and a track he likes may be the spark he needs. The SA bomber also has two top 30s here the last couple of years and in 2010 he was fourth and challenging strongly after three rounds, only to slump to a final day 75.

Portugal Masters Sleeper Watch

Pick #5: Pablo Martin ew @200/1 (general) The streaky multiple tour winner and birdie machine has been in dreadful form this season but sneaked onto my radar last week when carding 16 birdies through his first two rounds. This course is set up ideally for the Spaniard who held the third round lead at the Portugal Masters in 2010 by three shots (on the eventual winning total) before a final round capitulation. Pablo was also fourth at this stage in 2009 before a Sunday 77 dropped him down the leaderboard. If we take his Sunday performances out of the equation, he was a monstrous -34 for six rounds around the Oceanico Victoria course.

As per usual, I'm recommending my sleeper pick this week as a good potential long odds back to lay opportunity on Betfair as well as a good ew 1st round leader prospect at same odds. I'm also putting forward another fancy in this category: Continuing the theme of big hitting South Africans this week, Keith Horne is trading over 400.0 on the exchanges and currently best priced 140/1 ew (subject to change) in the first round leader market. Learn about trading here.

Trades Edited in at 10.25 09/10/12

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