With only five events left before the Race to Dubai finale, time is running out for players chasing various crucial money list targets. Paul Krishnamurty identifies four who could be inspired by the extra motivation...
"Grillo has made four of his last six top-20s and, notably, ranked in the pivotal top-three for greens in regulation stats during all four of those good efforts."
For many players, autumn is the most pivotal point of the golfing calendar. While the leading players are most driven by, and focus their attention around the majors, this is a time which can make or break the careers of the rest. Finish outside the top-110 on the Race to Dubai and a nervy, perilous trip to Q-School awaits in order to retain full playing privileges.
Further up the money list, a place inside the top-60 means an invitation to the megabucks season finale in Dubai, offering a chance to dramatically improve one's standing in the game, not to mention bank balance.
As we've seen in the States during the FedEx Cup and Fall Series, the extra incentive created by money lists often sees players turn their seasons around. Likewise in last year's Portugal Masters, I recommended four such motivated players, including eventual winner Shane Lowry at 70.069/1. In hope of a repeat, I'm backing the following quartet this time around.
RTD Standing: 62nd
Portugal Masters Odds: 100.099/1
The recent form of Gonzalez perfectly illustrates how a player can up their game when it matters. A couple of months ago he was struggling to stay in the top-110 but after a few good results, he's on the verge of the top-60. All that form has come in Scotland, particularly finishing second at Gleneagles and seventh last time in the Dunhill Links, but he should also like the generous driving areas and emphasis on birdies in Portugal. Notably, Gonzalez ranks first for both birdie and putting average over the last three months. This is not the form of a 100.099/1 chance.
RTD Standing: 68th
Portugal Masters Odds: 80.079/1
Willett remains a largely unfulfilled talent and it would be a blow were he not to make the top-60 and Dubai. After a promising mid-summer spell, he's gone off the boil in recent weeks but it would be no surprise to see Willett bounce back on a course where he's twice finished sixth in three attempts. A relatively wide-open course is perfect for this big-hitter's skills-set.
RTD Standing: 80th
Portugal Masters Odds: 80.079/1
In my view, Grillo will soon be a household name and is ready to make dramatic improvement. All the signs are there. He's only just turned 21, has plenty of power off the tee yet often struggles in the scrambling department due to a lack of experience. This will improve in due course and recently he's looked a winner-in-waiting. Grillo has made four of his last six top-20s and, notably, ranked in the pivotal top-three for greens in regulation stats during all four of those good efforts. He's overpriced here at 80.079/1 and will be a big candidate next week in the Perth International, where he contended throughout for fifth place last year.
RTD Standing: 106th
Portugal Masters Odds: 42.041/1
It seems unbelievable that a player of Quiros' talents and reputation can be struggling to retain his card and, on this return to arguably his favourite track, he is widely expected to vastly improve. I say 'widely' because odds of 42.041/1 would not usually reflect 106th place on the money list. Those shortened odds are because the secret is out. As Steve Rawlings explains in his detailed tournament preview, Quiros has moved to the Algarve and become a member at this track, where he's already won this title in 2008 and registered three more top-20s. It is also encouraging that he has found some form in recent weeks, finishing 22nd around an unsuitable layout in the KLM Open, followed by a close eighth in the Italian Open.