Karlsson should keep up impressive start
DANNY WILLETT, one of the bestbacked players in the field for
Masters in Vilamoura, withdrew prior
to his round yesterday morning with a rib problem, so punters who
supported the in-form Englishman ante-post will get their stake
Willett, an RPSPORT selection at 22-1 on the back of his
runnerup effort in last week’s Links Championship, was replaced by
Irishman Simon Thornton for the threeball alongside Miguel Angel
Jimenez and Edoardo Molinari.
The first day of action at the Victoria Course resulted in a
three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard, with pre-tournament
25-1 chance Robert Karlsson the most illustrious of the pacesetting
The Swedish beanpole carded a bogey-free 64 to assume
favouritism, with his compatriot Johan Edfors and Dutchman Maarten
Lafeber matching his eight-under-par total.
Alexander Noren ended round one a shot behind at seven under
par, while Alvaro Quiros (67) and Ross Fisher (68) also made solid
starts to the week.
There is no reason to expect Karlsson to falter from the front
at this stage and odds-against quotes about the ten-time European
Tour victor winning his threeball again today are decent value.
He has finished in the top three at the Victoria Course twice
before in previous Portugal Masters and is powerful enough to take
advantage of the four par fives.
Playing partner Oliver Wilson is clearly enduring a crisis of
confidence as he is messing about with his putting stroke.
The Mansfield man’s great strength has always been his magical
short game, but he has switched to a left-hand-belowright grip for
some reason. It is a move which smacks of desperation from a
frustrated player who has never won on the European Tour and an
experiment which is unlikely to last long.
Simon Khan, the third member of the group, holed a bunker shot
for eagle on the fifth hole yesterday to keep his neck above water,
but the Epping man, who closed with an 83 in the Links Championship
last week, generally performed abysmally in a levelpar 72, so there
is no question who is likelier to get among the birdies this
Recommendation R Karlsson 2pts 11-10 Stan James