Portugal Masters 2013: Key Tee Times and Players to Watch
The Presidents Cup may have marked the official end to the 2013 golfing calendar, but already 2014's programme is ready to get underway, as the final spots on the 2014 European Tour will be decided.
Now in its seventh year, the Portugal Masters stands out as one of the early highlights of the new season, attracting top-class competitors from around the globe.
Some of the biggest names on the European Tour are set to descend on the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura with recent heroes of the Ryder Cup and Seve Trophy lining up to complete a truly world-class field.
The action begins at 8 a.m. (BST) on Thursday October 10th with the first group to tee off featuring Richard Green, Dawie van der Walt and Seve Benson.
For a full list of the entrants and tee times on Day 1, visit the official European Tour website.
A curated list of the key tee times and players to watch can be found below.
|Tee Time (BST)||Tee||Player 1||Player 2||Player 3|
|8:20||10||Ricardo Santos||Shane Lowry||Jose Maria Olazabal|
|8:30||10||Nicolas Colsaerts||Francesco Molinari||Joost Luiten|
|8:40||10||Tommy Fleetwood||Stephen Gallacher||Jamie Donaldson|
|12:30||1||Felipe Aguilar||Robert Rock||Tom Lewis|
|12:30||10||Antonio Rosado||Paul Waring||Hennie Otto|
|12:50||1||Martin Kaymer||Thomas Bjorn||Matteo Manassero|
|13:00||1||Paul Laurie||David Howell||Miguel Angel Jimenez|
|13:10||1||Ross Fisher||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano||Bernd Weisberger|
Key Tee Times and Players to Watch
Of the 42 tee times on Day 1 of the 2013 Portugal Masters, four stick out immediately as the potential picks of the day based on the quality of the trios involved.
Another four are notable due to a single golfer's presence for that particular slot on the roster.
Key Tee Time Highlight One
Starting off with the earliest of the highlighted tee times, and at 8:20 a.m. Ricardo Santos, Shane Lowry and Europe's victorious Ryder Cup and Seve Trophy-winning captain Jose Maria Olazabal will set off around the course from tee No. 10.
Home favourite Santos is back competing on his local 18 holes, with the Portuguese's residence just two minutes away from the course. Currently ranked 55th in the Race to Dubai standings, with a bit of luck he may be able to ride his home advantage in the latter stages of the competition.
Leading off from tee No. 10 alongside the local star is Lowry, the defending champion who has been tipped to make a big impact again this year. A strong end to the previous season saw the Irishman equal the course record of a round of 64 at Carnoustie in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September.
Olazabal may not be one of the favourites to challenge for the title, but as one of the most respected and celebrated personalities on the European Tour, his presence will as ever add a touch of reverence to the tournament.
Key Tee Time Highlight Two
The man who saw Europe to victory in the final singles match of the Ryder Cup and Seve Trophy, Francesco Molinari, starts his Portugal Masters campaign at 8:30 a.m. from tee No. 10, with fellow Seve teammates Nicolas Colsaerts and Joost Luiten.
Having conquered Tiger Woods at Medinah in 2012 and finished off Great Britain and Ireland's Simon Khan earlier this month at Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, Molinari will now be looking for individual glory.
Colsaerts, last year's Volvo World Match Play Championship winner, will be hot on the Italian's tail, however along with 2013 KLM Open champion Luiten.
Key Tee Time Highlight Three
Just 10 minutes later at 8:40 a.m., beaten Seve Trophy teammates Tommy Fleetwood, Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson will also set off from tee No. 10.
Having put in some good team and individual performances for Great Britain and Ireland earlier in October, the trio will now look to pit their considerable wits against each other with all three able to compete at this year's Masters.
With wins in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles for Fleetwood, a triumph for Gallacher in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and a victory in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for Donaldson under each of their respective belts already in 2013, the trio may feel that they each have a real chance to take the top prize in the Algarve.
Key Tee Time Highlight Four
Later in the day, 2013's tournament favourite Martin Kaymer will start from tee No. 1 at 12:50 p.m. alongside Thomas Bjorn and Matteo Manassero.
Former world No. 1 Kaymer is odds-on favorite to claim this year's title with the German's imposing form convincing the bookkeepers early on. Denmark's Bjorn claimed his first title for two years in September when he secured a major European Masters play-off victory against Craig Lee in Switzerland. He should prove to be a stern test for any of the players gathering in Portugal.
At just 20 years of age, BMW PGA Championship winner Manassero is the youngest-ever golfer to win a European Tour event and will look to build on his success in May with a strong showing. He'll need to hit the green running against such high-calibre partners in the opening round.
Players to Watch
Links specialist Tom Lewis tees off at 12:30 p.m. from tee No. 1 alongside Felipe Aguilar and Robert Rock. Having finished third behind Lowry at Dunhill, the Englishman has a shot at repeating his feat of winning the Portugal Masters in 2011.
South African Hennie Otto also starts his Portugal Masters run at 12:30 p.m., but from tee No. 10. He will be joined by Antonio Rosado and Paul Waring, but will be hoping to leave both his partners behind as he tries to make headway at the start of the new season after a decent finale to the 2013 calendar.
Veteran Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez tees off at 1:00 p.m. from tee No. 1 on Day 1 with Paul Lawrie and 2013 Dunhill Links winner David Howell. Both Jimenez and Howell will be dangerous names to anyone on the roster.
Last but not least, England's Ross Fisher starts alongside Seve Trophy winner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Austrian Bernd Weisberger at 1:10 p.m. from tee No. 1. Coming in at third in 2008 and second in 2012 in previous Portugal Masters competitions, Fisher will be hoping to make the step up this year to grab the title as one of the true dark-horse candidates in the field.
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