After Continental Europe secured their first victory over Great Britain and Ireland at last weekend’s Seve Trophy, the players of the European Tour have converged on the Algarve for the Portugal Masters.
There are three players—England’s David Lynn and Paul Waring and South Africa’s Hennie Otto—tied for first on 12 under, and all are vying for their maiden title of the season.
The award for round of the day went to Justin Walters, who carded a 63, while defending champion Shane Lowry missed the cut after shooting five bogeys on Day 2.
With two days of play still to go, there is plenty of room for improvement. Here’s a look at some players who will need to up their games if they’re to challenge down the back nine on Sunday.
Martin Kaymer (-6)
Will Martin Kaymer win another major title?
Back-to-back rounds of 68 have put Martin Kaymer tied for 19th place at the Portugal Masters heading into the third day of play.
The world No. 37 backed up a blemish-free opening round with five birdies and two bogeys on Day 2, but the German is capable of improving his game over the next few days.
Kaymer, who is yet to win a tournament this year, has struggled to reproduce the type of golf that catapulted him to No. 1 in the world in 2011. He has looked a shadow of the player who clinched a playoff victory at the 2010 PGA Championships, and who sunk the winning putt for Europe in last year’s Ryder Cup, since moving across the pond to play on the PGA Tour this year.
The Dusseldorf-born golfer needs to get back to winning ways. He currently sits six off the lead in the Algarve, but if he can bring his game together, then he will be in with a shout come Sunday.
Francesco Molinari (-2)
Francesco Molinari steered Continental Europe to success in last week’s Seve Trophy, holing the winning putt for the home side at St-Nom-la-Breteche, but he has had an up-and-down week in the Algarve.
The Italian shot three under on Thursday, but he struggled on Friday. Three bogeys on three, 11 and 13, coupled with a double bogey on 18, saw him fall to two under, 10 behind the leaders, heading into Saturday’s action.
If Molinari, who sealed the overall victory for Europe in last year’s Ryder Cup, can reproduce his "team golf" form over the next few days, then he has the potential to slowly chip away at the leaders. Three years ago at this event he managed to shoot two rounds of 62, proving he has the ability to shoot low over the weekend.
Victory may be beyond him, but a top-five finish would equal his best performance of the year.
Graeme Storm (-5)
Graeme Storm will need to make a big push in the closing days of the Portugal Masters if he is to move inside the Top 60 in the Race to Dubai rankings.
The Englishman currently sits at 69 in the Race, and only 60 qualify for the season-ending event.
After carding an impressive score of six under on Thursday, Storm dropped off the pace on Friday shooting one over par, including a double bogey on 18.
Storm’s best result of the year came at the Alstom Open de France where he finished tied for third, and he also impressed at the ISPS Handa Wales Open in September when he finished sixth.
He currently sits seven off the pace, but if he can rediscover his form from Thursday, then he will increase his chances for a place in Dubai.
Paul McGinley (-5)
Paul McGinley hasn’t won on the European tour in eight years, and he will need to improve over the next two days if he is to end that drought.
The current Ryder Cup captain, who has pocketed €169,496 in prize earnings this year, improved on his opening day’s performance by shooting six birdies on Friday to move to five under.
With other players in the field looking to impress McGinley ahead of next year’s Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, the Irishman will be hoping to lead by example in the closing days of the tournament.