Ricardo Melo Gouveia and Lucas Herbert have reached Vilamoura out of the Dubai Race Top 100 and know that to stay on the European Tour in 2019 they need to end the season in that elite. The season is long, there are four tournaments left and Portugal Masters is a unique opportunity.
Both started today (Thursday) in the best way in the most important tournament of 2 million euros in prize money, and both were bogeys in the first 18 holes, with the Portuguese in the 16th place, with 4 below Par and the Australian leading the race, with 8 below Par Pedro Dom Victoria Golf Course.
Lucas Herbert, the 103rd in the Dubai Race, equaled his best lap ever on the European Tour, with 63 strokes (- 8), showing that it was no coincidence that this year he has already scored three top-five in the World Cup. European first division.
“Of course there is more pressure this season and I feel the pressure to play well. In the weeks before this tournament I had a hard time finding fitness and I brought here my coach and my physical therapist and things are getting in order. Today was a good indication that things are going well and I hope to continue that way, ”said Herbert.
The Australian has a one-stroke lead over England’s Matt Wallace and Eddie Pepperell and Irishman Shane Lowry, with Wallace’s curiosity being the 2017 Portuguese Open champion and Lowry winning the Portugal Masters in 2011.
Ricardo Melo Gouveia’s case is a little more complicated than Lucas Herbert’s case because the only Portuguese to compete full-time on the European Tour is ranked worst in the European first division ranking (132nd).
However, the 67 strokes, 4 under Par, give him excellent prospects as he is in the 16th place, just 4 of the lead and 1 of the top-10.
On a windy day, playing in the afternoon could still have been detrimental because the greens were on their feet, but the London-based Portuguese handled the situation well and tomorrow (Friday) could play even better as he left in the morning. , with more affordable greens.
“I want to continue doing the same and improve drives and exit shots a bit,” said the Portuguese Olympic athlete who was pleased with his performance: “It was a great result, a good start. Today I did not do any bogey and that was the most important ».
In addition to Ricardo Melo Gouveia, another Portuguese managed to finish the first day in the provisional cut – Tomás Santos Silva, just 1 blow behind, that is, with 68 (-3), which gives him a 27th place, tied, between others, with Danes Lucas Bjerregaard (Portugal Masters Champion of 2017) and Thorbjorn Olesen (who for the week plays the Ryder Cup).
Speaking of Ryder Cup, the good debut of Sergio Garcia, the Spaniard who had never played Portugal Masters and who appears in the group of the 6th classified, with 66 (-5), the same result of the Finnish Kim Koivu. , the winner of three tournaments of the 2018 Challenge Tour, which is coached by Portuguese David Silva.
«I played well but I was not extraordinary. It was nice to have made a good lap and to have been at a good level after being away from the circuit for a while, ”commented the former world number 2 now 28, who is just 1 blow from Chinese Li Haotong (- 6), yesterday’s Pro-Am winner.
Of the strong Portuguese contingent of 11 players, in addition to Ricardo Melo Gouveia and Tomás Santos Silva, stood out Ricardo Santos, who has not played Portugal Masters since 2015, and started with a 71 lap (Par). The 93rd place is not impressive, but it is only 2 strokes from the provisional cut.