Last year’s Portugal Masters was reduced to 36 holes due to rain, with France’s Alexander Levy hardly getting a chance to play over the weekend. But that’s not the reason why he has such fond memories of the tournament.
The young Frenchman shot rounds of 63 and 61 to win on a staggering 18-under par total after just two rounds – which meant he averaged a birdie every two holes.
“It was a funny week,” Levy said. “I played only four shots at the weekend and I managed to win the tournament like that.
“I played some of the best golf of my life. It was a very good week for me. I don’t think this week I’m going to make 18 birdies in 36 holes, because I heard there is a little bit more rough than last year.”
Not only did he win his second European Tour title at the Oceanico course in Vilamoura last year, Levy also helped France win the European Amateur Team Championship on the golf course when it was held four years ago.
“I’m very happy to be here to defend my title, it’s a great golf course, a lovely hotel and the food is also great. I’ve got some very good memories,” said Levy.
“You can look back at what helped you achieve that, but now I have to move forward. It’s nice to see pictures of me with the trophy on Twitter and Instagram, and to have scored like I did was amazing. But the important thing is understanding what helped you achieve those things, and how you can replicate that.”
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) October 13, 2015
No player has retained the trophy in eight editions of the Portugal Masters but, having mounted an impressive defence of his Volvo China Open title in April, when he finished two shots behind the winner Wu Ashun, Levy is hopeful of bucking that trend and creating history in the Algarve.
“I think I showed earlier in the year in China that I feel very comfortable defending a title,” he said. “I finished third in China and was in contention to win until the last four holes, so I don’t feel any extra pressure to play well when I’m the defending champion. I enjoy it, and it motivates me to do well.”
Germany’s Martin Kaymer is the favourite, although his preparation has been less than ideal.
“A friend of mine got married in Los Angeles, so I flew there on Friday, stayed Saturday for the wedding and flew out again Sunday and arrived here Monday,” the former world No. 1 said.
“It was a tough one. It’s been a long and tiring week but I slept fairly well last night. It’s a golf course that I enjoy to play, so with some patience I think I can do well.”
Meanwhile, local hero Ricardo Santos will need to make the most of home advantage this week as he battles to regain his Tour card.
Santos could only finish 116th in the Race to Dubai in 2014 to lose his card and comes into the Portugal Masters a lowly 180th, with just two weeks left to climb into the top 110 and earn full playing rights for the next season.
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