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GolfSixes Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 03 Jun 2019 | Comments

THE innovative GolfSixes tournament is to held outside the United Kingdom for the first time, moving to the magnificent Oitavos Dunes in Portugal, which is ranked 55th in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, while it is listed as Portugal’s Number One golf course. It is also Highly Recommended on Golfshake.

It has hosted the Open de Portugal on four occasions, first in 2005 when Paul Broadhurst emerged victorious, and then in three years in succession in 2007, 2008 and 2009, won by Pablo Martin Benavides, Grégory Bourdy and Michael Hoey respectively.

It is the first time the tournament will be held outside of the United Kingdom, and it will be hosted in partnership with the Municipality of Cascais and Event/Media agency U.COM – which stages the annual Millennium Estoril Open, an ATP Tennis Championship, in the same region. Last year it was won in magnificent fashion in glorious weather at Centurion Golf Club by Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan, representing Ireland.

This year’s event will follow the same ground-breaking format as the 2018 GolfSixes, with four ‘Wildcard Teams’ – featuring stars of male and female golf – joining 12 other two-man teams of European Tour players representing their home nations.

The two-day tournament will also be played over a Friday and Saturday for the first time. With the UEFA Nations League final and third-place play-off taking place in Portugal on Sunday June 9, it is going to be a big weekend for sport in Portugal. The GolfSixes format has not only proven a huge success on the European Tour – with The 2018 Ryder Cup also featuring the concept as part of its build-up at Le Golf National – but it has also been adopted across the grassroots of golf.

Dunne and Moynihan are back to defend their title. Team Ireland emerged victorious in the second edition of last year when they defeated the French pair of Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Romain Wattel in a dramatic finale.

It was won in 2017 by Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard – who has since won two titles on the European Tour – and Thorbjorn Olesen, who was a member of Thomas Bjorn’s successful European Ryder Cup team in Paris last year.

Dunne and Moynihan are sure to have plenty of support in a region which attracts large numbers of Irish tourists, and they are relishing the opportunity to defend the title at Oitavoc Dunes in Cascais, close to Lisbon. “I can’t wait to return to the GolfSixes alongside Gavin at a new venue this June”, said Dunne, whose maiden European Tour victory came at the 2017 British Masters, when he chipped in at the final hole to beat Rory McIlroy to the title.

“Gavin and I had so much fun last year. It’s an event which the players can really enjoy as well as the fans. The atmosphere has always been incredible at GolfSixes and I am sure that will be the same in Cascais. Portugal is renowned for its golf courses so I am sure they will embrace the event.”

Moynihan said: “GolfSixes was probably the best week of last year and one of the best memories of my career so far. To represent my country alongside Paul was such an honour and to go on and win the event made it even more special. It will be really exciting to defend our title at a new venue and I have heard great things about the area of Cascais, so hopefully the Irish fans will come out in force to support us.”

The tournament, in which teams compete over six holes in greensomes matchplay format, broke new ground in 2018 when it introduced an all-female team and a mixed captains team featuring 2018 Ryder Cup captain Bjorn and 2019 Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew.

The format  has also now been adopted across the grassroots of golf. The Golf Foundation, a registered charity with the aim of bringing golf to young people, has launched a GolfSixes League throughout Britain for juniors with 24 leagues staged across 22 UK regions, involving 112 golf clubs and nearly 1,500 junior golfers, and the good news is that nearly 30% of participants have been girls. The GolfSixes concept has also been rolled out in Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.

Three Ryder Cup winners will b involved with Jamie Donaldson of Wales, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari leading their respective nations into battle. The opening tie will feature Portugal’s wildcard team – childhood friends Pedro Figueiredo and Ricardo Gouveia – taking on England’s Tom Lewis and Paul Waring.

Joining those two teams in Group A will be Scotland – with 2014 Ryder Cup winner Gallacher joined by his fellow winner on the 2019 Race to Dubai David Law – and they will face an India team featuring S S P Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Bhullar in their opening tussle.

Ireland begin their title defence against an England Women’s team comprising Meghan MacLaren and Florentyna Parker, who have five Ladies European Tour titles between them. They are joined in Group B by Sweden’s Alexander Björk and Joakim Lagergren and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Pachara Khongwatmai, who face off in the opening match of their group on Friday morning. The pick of the matches in Group C will also take place  on Friday morning when an Australian team featuring Scott Hend and Wade Ormsby take on Wales, with Donaldson joined by Stuart Manley.

France’s Mattheiu Pavon and Romain Wattel and a Germany Women’s team consisting of 20 year old Esther Henseleit and another young rising star Laura Fuenfstueck complete Group C.

Group D will see current Aberdeen Standard Investment Scottish Open champion Brandon Stone join George Coetzee in a strong South Africa team, and they will begin with a tough assignment against Spain’s Jorge Campillo and Nacho Elvira.

Team Italy will be led by 2010 Ryder Cup star Molinari, who will be joined by exciting young prospect Renato Paratore as they take on Team Denmark – comprising 2018 European Challenge Tour Number One Joachim B Hansen and Jeff Winther – in the final match of the opening session.

Two more sessions will make up Friday’s action and the top two teams in each group will progress to Saturday’s quarter-finals, when the knockout drama gets underway. After the semi-finals and a third and fourth place play-off, the winner will be decided on Saturday afternoon in the grand finale.

Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography

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