CHORLEY'S Nick Dougherty will tomorrow hope to cement his place at the top of the European Ryder Cup points table as begins his first round at the Portugal Masters.

It is the first European Tour event for the Shaw Hill professional since he clinched his biggest career win at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship earlier this month.

Dougherty is among a host of top names looking to land the £350,000 first prize at the Oceanico Victoria club on the Algarve.

Fellow Englishman Justin Rose needs a top-two finish at to take the lead in the European Tour Order of Merit race.

Three events remain to decide who finishes the season as number one, but of the three players at the top - Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Rose - the 27-year-old is the only one competing in Portugal.

"The Order of Merit is very achievable now," said Rose.

"My goals were to play well in the majors and get into the top 20 in the world. I've done that, so now I guess it's to win a tournament and the Order of Merit."