Jordi Garcia Pinto
Madeira has a long history of golf which stems back to the 1920s, the original course at Santo da Serra was a par 3 layout. In 1935 work started on a nine hole course which opened for play on the 25th February 1937. The unknown architect designed a loop which contained three par threes, four par fours and two par fives, the design incorporated eucalyptus trees and grass bunkering.
In 1988 the regional government in Madeira decided to build a new 27 hole golf course and appointed Robert Trent Jones Sr as the designer and in Sepetember 1991 the Machico and Desertas nines were opened for play. In 1993 Mark James won the inaugural Madeira Open, putting the island on the European Tour map.
Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra officially took golf to Porto Santo in 1996. It opened a driving range there in the summer in a bid to develop the game on that island. In 1997 the Club presented the Regional Government of Madeira with plans to build an 18 hole golf course on Porto Santo, between Pico Ana Ferreira and Ribeiro Salgado.
In October 1996 the club was passed to the Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra with a merger of memberships between the Madeira Golf Club and Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra. The Serras Course was commissioned and in October 1998 it opened for play. The development was completed when a new clubhouse opened in September 2000.
With all the top players at this week's Players Tournament and with others taking a break, it means this tournament is left wide open for someone to step up to the plate this week.
My tips to win:
Playing in front of his home crowd and in an event that represents his only European Tour victory to date, Richardo Santos 14/1 will probably be the bookmakers favourite this week. Ricardo has had four Top 25 finishes this year including his only Top 10 at the NH Collection Open, which was another joint European and Challenge Tour Tournament. I think Santos would have expected to be challenging more this year, but I think he will look to get his season back on track this week.
I have a feeling Oliver Fisher 16/1 will win an event this year, we tipped him earlier on in the season and his runners-up finish at the Africa Open was followed up with a Top 25 and a Top 10 finish in his following two tournaments. Oliver was also in good form at the China Open but a final round 72 put paid to any chances he had of breaking into the Top 25. Fisher’s only win so far came in a similar event with a weak field at the Czech Open in 2011 and he could well repeat that feat here this week.
Jordi Garcia Pinto 28/1 leads the way on the Challenge Tour money list having played three events - two of those were Top 10 finishes, the other was a runners-up place at the NH Collection Open and with firing a final round 66 shows the young Spaniards confidence. Jordi turned pro in 2008 so is no rookie, but he has won on the Challenge tour at last year’s Kenya Open, shooting all four rounds in the 60s and I think he will do well here this week.
My each-way tips:
Rhys Davies 30/1 had a Top 5 finish here last year so obviously knows how to play the course and finished with a final round 67. Rhys has had a couple of Top 25's on the European Tour this year, one at the Trophée Hassan II and another at the NH Collection Open so he does come into this week in good form. He also shot three consecutive rounds of 70 at the Challenge de Catalunya two weeks ago and I think Davies will be challenging here this week.
It’s been a while since Welshman Bradley Dredge 50/1 picked up a trophy on the European Tour and when he last won at the European Masters in 2006 it looked like he was going to breakthrough and become a regular winner. Bradley did defend his title well come the following year, with a third place finish and two runners-up finishes, but he just hasn’t seemed to take that step up, the best it got was another runners-up at the European Masters in 2009 and a couple of Top 5 placings. Dredge has played two events this year where he made the Top 10 at the NH Collection Open, another co-sanctioned event, but he managed that with a 78 on the card so look for him to be competing in one of the final pairings come Sunday.
It’s been a long time since we tipped Fabrizio Zanotti 50/1, the lad from Paraguay who lost his tour card last year but promptly won it back by taking second place at the qualifying school. He then began the year in good form with a couple of Top 25's from his first five events of the year. Fabrizio started off last week’s Championship at Laguna National in great form and was looking good going into the final two rounds but then a 74, 76 finish put paid to any chances he had of winning the event. But with another weakened field this week he should do well here.
As always good luck