Time running out for Peter Lawrie to regain Tour card

Portugal Masters the last chance Lawrie will have to move into top 110 in Race to Dubai

Peter Lawrie will go into this week's Portugal Masters knowing that only strong finish - possibly in the top five - will see him avoid another trip to Tour School and secure his playing privileges on the European Tour for next season.

The Dubliner, who is playing on a sponsor's invite at Vilamoura, currently sits 123rd on the Race to Dubai rankings with only the top 110 earning their cards for the coming year. With €187,296 in the bank, Lawrie is Just over €50,000 behind Chris Paisley in 110th position but would realistically need in the region of €250,000 to be certain of getting his card.

Lawrie, who is not in the field for the final event of the regular season in Hong Kong next week, has only made two cuts in his last six events. And he will need to finish eighth or better in Portugal if he is to move into the top 110.

Lawrie, one of six Irish players in the field with Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Paul Dunne, Michael Hoey and Damien McGrane also taking part, is far from the only player sweating on their cards this week.


Former rookie of the year Ricardo Santos will need to make the most of home advantage this week as he battles to regain his card.

Santos became the first Portuguese player to win on home soil when he triumphed in Madeira in 2012, going on to finish 90th in the Race to Dubai and improving to 65th the following year.

However, the 33-year-old could only finish 116th in 2014 to lose his card and comes into the Portugal Masters a lowly 180th.

Santos, who lives in Vilamoura and is attached to the tournament venue of Oceanico Victoria Golf Course, said: “I’m just worrying about keeping calm and staying focused on my game and we’ll see what happens.

“It could be a good week. I know I have the game to have a good week here. I know the course quite well so who knows? After many years, it’s more comfortable for me to play here in Victoria in the Portugal Masters, with all the Portuguese crowd and family and friends as well. So I think it’s going to be a good week.”

Compatriot Ricardo Gouveia has no such worries after sealing his European Tour card for 2016 thanks to his impressive performances on the Challenge Tour.

The 24 year old is second in the Race to Oman after four top threes in five Challenge Tour events and feels he is ready to make the step up.

“I’m not going to change anything and I’m not going to expect too much of me,” he said. “Just going to play, enjoy, and hopefully I can get some good scores out of this week.

“I’m really looking forward to starting the (2016) season off, and just to play at the highest level of golf in Europe, which was my goal for this year to secure that card for next year. It was awesome that I could secure it in the middle of the season with some good results.”

Last year's event was reduced to 36 holes due to rain, with France's Alexander Levy winning on 18 under par after rounds of 63 and 61.

“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.”

Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer is the favourite as he looks to make up for losing out in a play-off in the Italian Open last month, although his preparation has been less than ideal.

“A friend of mine got married in Los Angeles, so I flew there on Friday, arrived Friday afternoon, stayed Saturday for the wedding and flew out again Sunday and arrived here Monday,” the former world number one said.

“It was a tough one. It’s been a long and tiring week but I slept fairly well last night and we have one more night to go until I have to tee it up tomorrow. And it’s a golf course that I enjoy to play, so with some patience I think I can do well.”