International Pairs World Final Report Spain 2016

 

18th International Pairs World Final 2016

 

For over a decade and a half, Scotland the home of golf, proudly hosted the International Pairs World Finals. In 2015 the decision was taken to move the event to Denia, Costa Blanca, Spain and take advantage of the international flavor of the area and the beautiful winter sunshine.  Golf Partners Worldwide took the decision to extend the partnership into 2016 and thank everyone involved, with special thanks to Vincent Grimalt, Mayor of Denia, the local tourist board, La Sella Golf Club, Jerome Gateau , director general of the Denia Marriott and Jessica Pastor and their wonderful team at the Denia Marriott Hotel, Spain.

We were joined this year, for the very first time by Malta, represented by Anne MacDonald & Gernot Schmid from Royal Malta GC. The World Final hosts also welcomed Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, represented by Paul Mooney and John Fletcher from Les Ormes GC.

 

Internationally we were honoured to welcome back team USA, the World Final winners in 2015 and represented this year by two very determined players, Clint Payton and John Burton. The South African teams, sponsored by Windhoek Larger fielded two impressive winning teams with Mark Roux/Jeanne Koegelenberg and Nico Van der Westhuizen/Johan  Groenewald. Team South Africa is always impressive, consistently producing top club pairs, but yet to win the World Final; this year they represent a real threat to team USA who are determined to replicate the success of Dave Williscraft & Brett Wall of Canada in 2010, the first pair and country to successfully defend the International Pairs title.

Joining them at the 18th International Pairs World Final were team United Arab Emirates, represented by Simon Earl and Robert Aybar from Jumerirah GC and the Nigerian pairing,  Austin Ojomo and Jacob Erhabor (who demonstrated his driving skills on the practice day, off a cart path on the 9th hole, propelling the ball well over 200 yards to eventually make par).

 

After the practise rounds the opening ceremony was this year lead by Spanish band through the resort to the pool area where the players and their guests were soon enjoying drinks, enjoying the ceremonial atmosphere and the warm words of Vincent Grimalt, Mayor of Denia, who officially opened the World Final. With the evening coming to a close, Patrick Mulcrone, Managing Director of Golf Partners Worldwide, took control of proceeding and introduced Jose Grau, the tournament referee who announced the draw for day one of play; let battle commence.

La Sella Golf Club presents a real challenge and tough pin positioning set the competitive tone for the 2016 tournament. With so many low handicappers this year, including Tomas Bessa Portugal off +1 combined with absolutely perfect playing conditions, a high scoring leaderboard was already forecast by many of the players.

 

Day one is always a very special morning, with all the players up early for breakfast in the team hotel, milling around the practice and putting area and the first tee. It was amazing to see the friendship and encouragement from all the competitors but nothing could hide the desire to win this event, and be crowned the International Pairs world club champions; England demonstrating its determination with two very competitive pairings this year, Gavin Mennell & David Robinson and Paul Jenkinson & Andy Bettney.

All the players looked amazing in their club colours and matching attire and judging from the drives off the first, the standard of golf this year promised to be very high. Tomas Bessa and Renato Ferreira, team Portugal was officially voted the best dressed team on tour and it is always a real pleasure to watch amateur club players, from around the world as they prepare for that first drive in a professionally managed tournament; the atmosphere around the clubhouse was absolutely electric with film crew and photographers and guests all adding to this fantastic, once in a lifetime experience.

The format of play was pairs; better ball stableford off ¾ handicap, and application of the slope system for the very first time since the International Pairs event was first played in 1999, reflecting the true International and global flavor of this tournament.

 

In 2015 team USA posted a fantastic first day score of 44 points, going on to win the title; Clint Payton and John Burton set the tone for the USA defence of their title, turning in 26 points and going onto post an opening day score of 46 stableford points. Team USA were followed closely by Mark Roux and Jeanne Koegelenberg, team South Africa, with 43 points, and matched shot for shot by Paul Jenkinson and Andy Bettney. In fourth place, the team from Scotland, Frank Hamill & Ian Hart, playing off 18 and 15 respectively, produced a stunning 42 points to stay in contention. Scotland last won the event in 2008 and both players admitted to being mentally and physically exhausted, but thrilled to be in the top of the field.

With the first day of play a distant memory, the players and guests were able to relax and enjoy a traditional evening of entertainment with flamenco dancers and a Spanish quartet that won the hearts of a very demanding International crowd.

The players, guests and sponsors enjoyed the evening and much of the discussion at the bar was focused on catching the leading pair from the USA and missed putts and opportunities. Emotions were running high as the evening came to a close and all eyes were on day two of the tournament.

 

Day 2 saw Alejandro Rodriguez and Adolfo Legeren from Spain in fantastic spirit, two brilliant golfers, epitomising the true spirit of competitive golf, encouraging the players on the tee who would eventually move up to places on the leaderboard, to finish tied in 8th place. Despite the nerves we were able to witness some truly impressive golf.

Ireland’s Mark & Sean Creedon were determined to move up from 12th place and the side bets were already in place, just to add to the pressure. Both Malta and U.A.E. dropped down the leaderboard on day two, dropping to 10th and 11th place respectively, Scotland, finishing in a very respectable 6th, dropping two places. Both England teams dropped down one place, Gavin Mennell & David Robinson eventually finishing 7th and Paul Jenkinson & Andy Bettney gallantly hanging onto 3rd place, with a stunning birdy, birdy finish to tie with Nico Van der Westhuizen & Johan Groenwald from South Africa, the highest movers on day 2 along with Spain.

Around the clubhouse at the end of play was an absolute pleasure to witness, and wonderful to see such laughter and friendship on and around the 10th tee. Everyone was encouraging and such laugher between picture taking and exchanging of shirts underpinned the wonder of this truly amazing amateur tournament.

As the final four-ball arrived back into the clubhouse, the day two results were already being added to the Golfbox Live leaderboard and it was amazing to watch the players and guests following the scores and sharing the live leaderboard with friends and family on social media. Each of them enjoyed a moment of satisfaction as their names appeared and the reaction to the two USA players as they entered the clubhouse was wonderful, everyone applauding the successful defence of the title.

Mark Roux & Jeanne Koegelenberg from South Africa had secured 2nd place and Nico Van der Westhuizen & Johan Groenewald 3rd place, shared with Paul Jenkinson & Andy Bettney from England, once again South Africa  just missing out on a first International Pairs world final win by just a single point; it seems that the USA had rode their luck on three separate occasions when they looked out of the hole; going on to secure points, through a few favourable bounces off the trees and cart paths! Seven points separated the third placed pairs but over the two days, they were out there but stunning scores nonetheless.

The formal gala dinner and presentation was a wonderful occasion and Clint Payton and John Burton, team USA were crowned world champions.

 

Clint took the microphone at the end of the formal presentation “ I am not accustomed to making speeches…we had no idea what to expect when we arrived here for this tournament, it was also John’s first trip outside the USA.” Clint went on to say “ that they had met so many new friends, meeting people from the UAE and Nigeria, South Africa and to be drawn with the boys from Jersey on day one was a relief, until we realised it wasn’t the Jersey outside New York” which drew much applause and laughter from everyone in attendance. “ This tournament has been an incredible experience and I have new friends around the world and memories that will last for the rest of my life, thank you.” The boys received a standing ovation for their performance and a winner’s speech that resonated with everyone around the room.

The International Pairs is owned and managed by Golf Partners Worldwide Ltd and regarded as the world club championship for amateur club golfers. With the continued support of our current country franchise partners and the addition of new country franchise partners across the globe, we will continue to create a truly once in a lifetime experience for the competitors, creating friendships around the world and memories that will last a lifetime.

www.golfpartnersworldwide.com

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