After a trio of late birdies under pressure, Manuel de Los Santos took a deep breath and held his nerve to prevail in a dramatic sudden-death play-off to win the European Disabled Golf Association’s Algarve Open 2015.
Friday’s second round (20th November) was played out in brilliant sunshine at the Pestana Vila Sol Resort, with a good crowd of well-wishers and EDGA players relishing the action as tournament leaders de Los Santos and Mathieu Cauneau returned to the 18th tee after both recording a two-round total of 152.
Supported by the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA) this was always going to be a special finish to the EDGA season, with the ATA making all players feel very much at home for the three days of practice and the event itself on the challenging 5,975-meter Pestana Vila Sol course.
For a good period Frenchman Cauneau looked ‘the man most likely’ after a solid pair of 76s – with his lovely smooth swing and calm temperament – while first round joint leader de Los Santos of the Dominican Republic was struggling to match the consistency of his 74 on Day One.
After a triple bogey on the par-3 15th, Manuel somehow reeled off three successive birdies to draw level with Mathieu, including a wonderful chip-in on the last hole for a 78. The pair narrowly edged out Spain’s Juan Postigo, whose 75 and a total of 153 was to be one shot too many for the Category 1 & 2 Strokeplay title.
And so to a playoff. Driving from the 18th tee, Cauneau’s drive was dead-centre while de Los Santos found his ball blocked to the green by a tree on the right. He chipped back onto the fairway before powering a wonderful mid-iron to the back of the green, leaving a highly testing 7-meter downhill putt to the hole. Cauneau was just short of the green in two and chipped to 5 meters. The lag putt of de Los Santos nearly dropped while the Frenchman’s firmer effort would cruelly lip out, denying him victory.
A second play-off hole on the 18th, saw Cauneau find the fairway again with that measured swing while de Los Santos this time visited the trees on the left. Two more shots had him just short of the green while Cauneau’s second shot leaked fractionally to the right and he found his ball in a lone bush, 7 meters short of the cavernous bunker on the right front of 18.
A penalty drop, a cool and delicate flick over the trap would leave him just too far away from the hole at 5 meters and he would take six shots. Equally calm however, De La Santos made his up-and-down look easier than it was for his five and a great victory to win the Category 1 & 2 Strokeplay (Gross). Mathieu would have the consolation of winning the ‘Nett’ Category 1 & 2 event with two 69s and 138.
Leading female golf is Mette
In the Ladies’ event, Mette Wegge Lynggaaed of Denmark was the star on this occasion with a two-round total of 179.
Richard Kluven of The Netherlands was the deserving winner of the Wheelchair category with 63 points.
In the well-contested Category 3 section, England’s Mike Lincoln won the day with two 88s and 176, two shots ahead of France’s Pierre Douma (who won the ‘Nett’ section with 140), while France’s Nino Ourabah enjoyed third place with 184.
The Stableford Category had some familiar names at the top of the scoresheet. Jakub Kovarik of the Czech Republic was first with 63 points, Shlomo Ivgi of Israel was four back on 59 points and France’s Nicolas Grossia scored 57 for third place.
On winning the title Manuel de Los Santos said: “This was a great match and Mathieu was a fantastic player today. It was so close. I enjoyed it for every shot, the good shots and the bad shots because we are very fortunate to be out there, to be able to focus on the golf, and there is a great spirit among the players.”
EDGA President Tony Bennett said: “This was a wonderful tournament and I would echo Manuel’s view about the spirit in which it was played. Congratulations to all the players this week. We would also like to thank the very friendly staff at the Pestana Vila Sol Resort and particular thanks to Maria Manuel Delgado e Silva, of the Algarve Tourism Association, who was hugely supportive of all of us and a pleasure to work with.”
Article by Ben Evans www.cuttingedgegolf.com
Day-1 Report by Ben Evans
Bjorkman and de Los Santos light up the EDGA Algarve Open
Shining under the sun of the Algarve in Autumn, two players who have lit up the EDGA season – Joakim Bjorkman and Manuel de Los Santos – share the lead in the final big event of the season.
Sweden’s Bjorkman and de Los Santos of the Dominican Republic both scored impressive +2 74s in the first round of the European Disabled Golf Association’s Algarve Open 2015 on Thursday (19 November). Held at the Pestana Vila Sol Resort, all the players had to deal with the highly challenging first five holes and tricky greens on the par 72 course which was in superb condition.
Supported by the Algarve Tourism Association this was always going to be a special finish to the EDGA season.
Leading in the Gross Strokeplay category, the in-form men are being stalked by the Belgian Adem Wahbi and France’s Mathieu Cauneau (both 76), Juan Postigo of Spain (78) and England’s Andy Gardiner (82), while the leading female golfer on the scoresheet is Mette Wegge Lynggaaed of Denmark with 84 shots.
In the Stableford category there was some equally good scoring. Shlomo Ivgi of Israel leads with 32 points, followed by Jakub Kovarik of the Czech Republic (28) and Spain’s Sebastian Lorente and France’s Nicolas Grossia, both with 26 points.
The favourites for tomorrow will undoubtedly be Bjorkman and de Los Santos, both of whom have enjoyed impressive victories already this year in the EDGA Premier Series.
No surprise that this writer saw the leading players practising on the range after their first round. De Los Santos was next to Adem Whabi, with Manuel hitting a cluster of perfect 9-irons while Adem was working on his drive for the final round.
Manuel said: “I am really looking forward to playing with Joakim tomorrow. We are all great friends but we love the competition and we will all try to win. I love golf and will be sure to enjoy the good shots and the bad.
“But I must putt better tomorrow if I am to win. I played well from tee to green but I did not give the ball a good roll on the green. It is difficult to get everything right.”
EDGA President Tony Bennett said: “There was some really great golf today and we look forward to more of the same tomorrow. Much credit must go to all the staff at the Pestana Vila Sol Resort and particular thanks to the Algarve Tourism Association who have been excellent in their support. Both of these teams have provided a brilliant welcome to all of our golfers at this great event.”