- Open de Portugal
Open de Portugal
Golf in Portugal goes back a long way, to 1890 in fact, when British wine exporters formed Oporto Niblicks Club at Espinho. Men’s and women’s national amateur championships weren’t established until the 1930s and it took another two decades until the Portuguese Golf Federation was founded by Estoril, Oporto, Miramar and Lisbon Sports Club in 1949.
Four years later, the inaugural national Open championship was held at Estoril and it remained there for another seventeen editions (there was no competition played in 1957 and 1965) until the start of the European Tour era in 1973 when the event switched to Penina. Sadly, Estoril would only hold the tournament on another two occasions, in 1974 and 1987.
Scottish professional Eric Brown claimed the first Open de Portugal in 1953, adding this trophy to the Irish Open that he won the same year. During those early years of the Open on the Portuguese Riviera in Cascais, Spanish golfers were very successful, winning exactly half pf the eighteen competitions that were played.
Ángel Miguel secured a hat-trick of victories, as did Ramón Sota, and there were also wins for fellow countrymen Sebastián Miguel, Ángel Gallardo and Germán Garrido. When the Open moved the tournament to the Algarve in 1973, Jaime Benito continued the Spanish domination, beating Bernard Gallagher in a playoff.
Penina hosted five of the first eight Opens on the European Tour schedule before Quinta do Lago largely took over, staging six of the competitions. During this spell in the 1970s and 1980s, a number of non-European winners emerged, including American Hal Underwood, Zimbabweans Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty, along with Australian Mike Harwood.
Several courses were utilised as one-off venues for the championship at this time, such as Vilamoura in 1979, Troia in 1983 and Estela in 1991 but 2-year residencies were to become the way forward in the 1990s, with Vila Sol in the Algarve, then Penha Longa and Aroeira in the Lisbon area hosting the Open between 1992 and 1997.
Into the new millennium and who could have forecast Pablo Martín winning by one stroke from Raphaël Jacquelin at Oitavos Dunes in 2007, becoming the first amateur to ever win a European Tour event? He had to forfeit the winner's cheque for €208,330 but he turned professional later that year and went on to win back-to-back editions of the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa in seasons 2010-11.
After the tournament lapsed into a period of hibernation from 2011 to 2016, it returned as a dual-ranking event on both the European Tour and the second-tier Challenge Tour at Golf do Morgado near Portimao in 2017. The following two editions were played there as Challenge Tour contests before dual-ranking returned at Royal Obidos in 2020, where this club became the thirteenth to host the prestigious Open de Portugal.
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