Tournament: Portugal Masters
DP World Tour Rankings: Tournament 41 of 43 events
Venue: Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, Vilamoura, Portugal
Prize Fund: US$2,000,000
Hashtag: #PortugalMasters #DPWT
Yannik Paul hopes to ride a wave of momentum at the Portugal Masters as he looks to build on last week’s maiden victory in Spain.
The German became the 13th first-time winner of the 2022 DP World Tour season after his victory at the Mallorca Golf Open.
With five further top 20 finishes in addition to his victory in his last eight starts, the 28-year-old is now eyeing a late-season charge up the DP World Tour Rankings in partnership with Rolex with just three events of the season left to play.
Joining Paul in the field at Dom Pedro Victoria is Denmark’s Nicolai Højgaard who will hope to go one better than his runner-up finish at this event last year. The 21-year-old, currently 67th on the Rankings will also hope to make a move up the season-long standings with the Top 60 available players participating in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and the Top 50 available players then taking part in the DP World Tour Championship.
Also teeing it up in Vilamoura this week is David Howell who will make his 707th DP World Tour start, moving to outright second on the all-time appearance list. He currently shares second place with Sam Torrance on 706 starts and will move to within 12 appearances of Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s current tally of 719.
The Portugal Masters is also the final counting event on the 2022 DP World Tour schedule. The top 110 players on the Rankings after the conclusion of this tournament will secure their cards for 2023. With seven players counted as ‘in addition’ the provisional cut-off for next year is 117th position.
Yannik Paul: “It feels amazing. It was just a rollercoaster of a day. I had the lead most of the day then Marcus (Armitage) made some great birdies and all of a sudden I was trailing by two with three to go and you’re thinking today might not be the day. To hole a putt on the last was a dream come true. That’s what you practice for: ‘this is a putt to win a tournament’. Then to actually have a putt and make it is unbelievable.
“This week is a great event and then South Africa is a really big event, then Dubai is the biggest event of the year. Right now it’s a good time to peak. I’m excited. I want to play well, keep that momentum going and I think playing against the best players in the world over the next few weeks, I’m excited, it came at the perfect time.
“Winning always stands above everything, you want to win tournaments. It’s what you practice for. To win in my first year was one of my goals, but to accomplish it is amazing. I just want to keep improving, keep getting better. My goal at the beginning of the season was to get to Dubai, that was a good goal with not getting into the big events. To accomplish that is amazing. Now I want to get to Dubai and get in contention come Sunday.”
Nicolai Højgaard: “I’m definitely looking at focusing on the positives from last week. I played the first three rounds really good. I’m building on that. Going into this week I’m trying to get my driving a bit better and the putting was the difference last week. I putted solid the first three days, hopefully I can build on that this week.
“It’s been a good season on many fronts. Results-wise and ranking-wise it’s been a bad season. I’ve learned a lot this year and played in some great events. My highlight was The Open, that was a great experience. It doesn’t get more special than that. I’m optimistic going forward. It’s been a learning year and we’re heading into, hopefully, a strong 2023.”
David Howell: “Sam (Torrance) was commentating last week and I managed to go into the booth for 20 minutes and talk about the golf with him. When I grew up I remember watching Sam Torrance on Tour, pro-celebrity golf, Sam was a big star and he’s one of the people who helped inspire me with his Ryder Cup performances especially to even get out here. To get past his record and it was a record for a number of years, is amazing. I’m very humbled by it. It’s been a life’s work, as he knows. It’s all I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t say I’m still going strong, but I’m still going. To get past him, you don’t set off with this as a goal in mind, you have other things in your mind, but when you get close, you look back, reminisce and it’s a wonderful thing.”