World Number Three Lee Westwood is relishing his return to the Victoria Golf Course in Vilamoura for the opportunity to defend his Portugal Masters title, 12 months after the victory which ignited his ascent to the summit of European golf.
In 2009, the Englishman finished two strokes clear of Italian Francesco Molinari and four ahead of Padraig Harrington last year to capture his first European Tour victory in more than two years, during which time he had lost three play-offs and recorded an astonishing 26 top ten finishes.
Westwood’s 19th visit to the winner’s enclosure as a European Tour champion lit the blue touch paper, and he promptly made it 20 when he captured the season ending Dubai World Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Westwood’s 2009 Portugal Masters victory and €500,000 first prize contributed towards the 37 year old winning the inaugural Race to Dubai ahead of Rory McIlroy and subsequently being named The 2009 European Tour Golfer of the Year.
His return to Oceânico Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura, as champion from October 14-17 will be his first appearance in stroke-play competition following his seventh Ryder Cup appearance for Europe at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.
Considered one of the leading European golf tournaments, the Masters will be held in Portugal for the fourth consecutive year offering a prize fund of €3 million.
The introduction of the Portugal Masters recognizes the quality of the golf facilities and tourism infrastructures that now exist in Portugal, enabling the country to welcome the elite of golf professionals, world-wide coverage by the international press and with an expected 35,000 spectators attending the event.
With its presence on the PGA’s European Circuit assured until 2010, the Portugal Masters will further enhance Portugal’s position as one of the finest golf destinations in the world, and for the fourth time this year we look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world to a very successful tournament.