Michael Hoey will be back in the mix on the European Tour at the Castello Masters in Valencia after his brilliant win in Scotland at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the beginning of the month.
The Northern Irishman shot up to 15th in the Race to Dubai rankings after his win at St Andrews, where he saw off the challenge of some of golf’s best players including fellow countryman Rory McIlroy, to finish on 22-under par and achieve the most illustrious title of his career to date.
Tom Lewis goes straight back in the action after his storming victory in Portugal that saw him take the Portugal Masters trophy after a brilliant finish; the 20 year old came from 7th position with seven holes left to win by two strokes.
The young Englishman will be paired with the bookies’ favourite to win in Valencia Sergio Garcia, as well as last year’s winner of this tournament, 18 year old Italian Matteo Manassero.
Manassero made everyone sit up and take notice of his arrival on Europe’s golf scene this time last year when he became the youngest European Tour winner (at 17) at the Club de Campo Mediterráneo, finishing on 16-under par; four shots ahead of runner up Ignacio Garrido.
The Irish contingent playing in Valencia this weekend will hopefully use their performances at the Portugal Masters as a platform to continue their good form, when last week Peter Lawrie finished highest of the Irish in 11th position on 16-under par.
It was Lawrie’s best finish since coming 15th at the Johnnie Walker Classic at Gleneagles in August and was one shot ahead of compatriot Shane Lowry, who finished tied for 16th with Padraig Harrington.
While Lewis has won many plaudits for his brilliant win on only his third European tour event, Lowry won his very first tour event at the Irish Open in 2009 and the Offaly native will hope to build on his display in Portugal, which was his highest finish since coming 16th in the Czech Open at the beginning of August.
Gareth Maybin will be looking to get off to a similar start to his first round in Portugal last week when he was just one shot off the top of the leader board after day one but ultimately ended up in 50th position; four shots ahead of Damien McGrane on 5-under, who is also taking part in Valencia this week.