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.
My tips to win:
Justin Walters 28/1 – with Skybet – will probably be the clear favourite this week coming into this event on the back of three Top 25’s on the European/Sunshine tours co-sanctioned events in South Africa over the last three weeks. Justin has played in this event twice before and has failed to make the cut but I think he is a better player now and should come into this week in confident mood.
Ricardo Santos 25/1 – with Ladbrokes – will also be one of the favourites this week and playing in front of a home crowd should lift him like it did when he won this event three years ago when he fired a final round 63 - winning by four shots. It has not been a great year for Ricardo with missing two cuts from five starts, but his opening round 66 at last week’s Tshwane Open which he followed up with a 68 are positive signs, and in a week field this week I think he may well be champion again this year.
Bradley Dredge 30/1 – with Bet365 – has a good record here having won the event back in 2003. He has played in the Madeira Island Open ten times so far and has only been outside the Top 16 three times, and although that is across two different courses it seems to show that he loves competing on the island. I do think he may have had more of a challenge last year if the tournament hadn’t been reduced to 36-holes. Bradley only plays now and again on tour now having only played three events so far this year, but I think there is a reason why he is turning up this week and with a weak field I think we will see him challenge this week.
My each-way tips:
Joakim Lagergren 40/1 – with SportingBet – had a Top 5 here in 2012 when he opened with two 66s. Joakim has had two Top 15 finishes from his six starts so far this year and his third place finish at the Hero Indian Open seems to have given the Swede a bit of a confidence boost and although he finished outside the Top 25 at last week’s Tshwane Open he did shoot a second round 67 - he just lacks a bit of consistency. Lagergren has won on the Challenge tour taking the Northern Ireland Open Challenge last year and has three other wins to his name.
It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for Peter Whiteford 50/1 – with BetVictor – since turning professional back in 2002. Peter didn’t really go full time until 2004 on the Challenge Tour and his first big breaks came when he won two events in the space of three weeks which set him on his way to a full European Tour debut in 2008. Whiteford has won and lost his card back a couple of times since then and is back on the challenge tour this year and with a weak field this week he will be looking to get this season off to a good start and help propel himself back on the main tour next year.
John Hahn 66/1 with Ladbrokes – was one of four Americans who claimed their European Tour cards at the 2013 qualifying school after seeing the success both Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka have had. John had five Top 25’s last year in his first season on the European Tour with two of those Top 10’s. He already has a Top 20 finish from his four starts so far this year and with Uihlein having won this title back in 2013 and Koepka having also had a Top 25 here I think we may well see another American challenging here his week.
As always good luck