Portugal Masters Each-Way Tips: A sense of deja Wu

Ashun Wu
Ashun Wu can be a Portugal Master this week.
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The European Tour remains in Iberia this week and Matt Cooper has three each way selections for the action from the Portugal Masters with the Betfair Sportsbook paying seven places...

"On his debut at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course he posted scores of 65-70-67-69 to land an always-in-contention tied seventh and a year later he carded a brilliant 64."

Back Ashun Wu each-way @ 100/1

Main Bet: Ashun Wu each-way @ 100/1

You would not be wrong in suspecting there is a sense of deja Wu about this week's first selection.

Because, yes, I did highlight China's Ashun Wu for last week's test in Spain, but, as a golf punting acquaintance of mine likes to say: "Sometimes your number didn't come up, but you're happy to keep the chips down."

It's a nice enough line, but there is also sense behind what he says because in the act of backing a player you find yourself paying close attention to his progress and might therefore see beyond the bald details of the final leaderboard.

In the case of Wu he dropped seven shots in his first 13 holes, in actual fact far from the worst effort last Thursday, but it left his chances of making the places somewhat unlikely at the very best.

Whereupon he played his next 44 holes in 2-under-par, an extended stretch of superb golf on a course which proved very difficult to negotiate.

The last four holes of that run came early in his last lap and were soon followed by bogeys which took the wind from his sail and he lurched down the back nine to end the week T31st.

All in all, I'd rate it a frustrating week, yet one which offered hope that a good result is well within his grasp.

Moreover, this week he's heading to a track that he's undoubtedly enjoyed in the past.

On his debut at the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura he posted scores of 65-70-67-69 to land an always-in-contention tied seventh and a year later he carded a brilliant 64 on his way to T44th.

There is also a link to another layout that is well worth pursuing.

Wu is a past winner at Diamond Country Club in Austria and his fellow champions there have a decent record at Dom Pedro: Joost Luiten, Chris Wood, Mikko Korhonen, Bernd Wiesberger and even this year's winner there Marc Warren have all notched top threes.

Flip it the other way and it still works because Dom Pedro winners Steve Webster, Richard Green, Shane Lowry and David Lynn have all finished in the top three in Vienna whilst Alex Levy, Lucas Bjerregaard and Tom Lewis have all made the top ten.

As noted last week, Wu has three wins at this level and given they have come in just 131 starts that always makes him worthy of interest when available at three figures and when there are valid reasons to believe he can thrive.

That's the case this week.

Next Best: Justin Walters each-way @ 66/1

On the one hand I understand the reasoning behind this week's price for the likeable South African Justin Walters - for one thing he's yet to win at this level.

But, on the other hand, I see a man who has twice finished second on the course and who was also second just two weeks ago.

And ultimately, the latter thought process wins the argument.

Normally, of course, the journeyman 39-year-old heads to this course badly in need of a good week to secure his card for the following season.

In 2013 he landed the first of those second places and was in tears because he achieved it following the death of his mother; last October he repeated the result soon after his father had passed away.

The two performances touched the hearts of those in and around the circuit, meaning that when he hit the top of the leaderboard a fortnight ago at The Belfry he had plenty of support.

He led by three shots after 18 holes, by one after 36 and by two after 54 ...

Late in the front nine he made a triple bogey-7, a blow that would prompt many to crumble, but not Walters.

Instead he remained impressively resolute. On Saturday evening he had said: "I've worked my whole life to be in these situations, so why run away from it or be worried about it? I'll just go and play and trust my work, trust my talent."

Late on Sunday that philosophy was tested: he needed to birdie three of the final five holes to force a play-off and he passed the test.

On the first extra hole he needed to scramble to make par; again he achieved what was required.

True, he made bogey at the second extra hole to leave Rasmus Hojgaard the victor, but what had gone before was impressive.

It's slightly concerning that the emotional intensity of a near miss, in addition to the poignant memories associated with his success on the course in the past, could induce exhaustion.

But a pair of 77s at Valderama last week might paradoxically have been the best thing for him, providing a weekend off and the chance to hit control-alt-delete.

Brandon Stone.jpg

Final Bet: Brandon Stone each-way @ 40/1

A few weeks ago, in the English Championship at Hanbury Manor, Andy Sullivan and Steven Brown headed out into the final round as the last pair.

Sullivan, the eventual champion by a massive seven blows, was winner of this week's event in 2015 and Brown, of course, is the defending champion.

Hanbury Manor has modern greens (or greens given recent renovations), wide fairways and the scoring was low: very reminiscent of conditions typical in this tournament.

All in all it suggests that results a month ago might make a decent pointer for this week and South Africa's Brandon Stone thrived in those conditions, spending all week in the top ten on his way to tied sixth.

What's more, he was very nearly a Portugal Masters winner himself because he led the field heading into the final round last year with a two-shot advantage before stalling with a final lap 70 that presented Brown with an opportunity he didn't turn down.

A look at the 27-year-old's wider career record adds weight to the feeling that this week is a good fit for him (as does the fact that Steve Rawlings is also keen on him).

Winners at Dom Pedro need to go low and Stone has proved he can do that - he thrashed a 60 to win the Scottish Open at Gullane in 2018.

They also need to be competent at taking on blustery modern designs - Stone has been second and fourth at Al Mouj, fifth at Le Golf National, seventh at Emirates and twice contended at different courses fitting that bill in the Mauritius Open.

Staked: 24pts
Returned: 27pts
P/L: +3pts

Matt Cooper,

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