English pair illuminate Spain’s Costa Dorada
Matt McGuire and Craig Swinburn ensured their march to victory in the PGAs of Europe’s Fourball Championship did not mirror the continent’s tallest rollercoaster that stands sentry alongside the Lumine Golf and Beach Club.
Having established a four-stroke advantage after the first two rounds of the tournament on Spain’s Costa Dorada, the pair were in no mood to squander their hard work in the third.
So, unlike the golfing pyrotechnics that resulted in them posting a two round total of 16-under-par, consolidation and prudence appeared to be on the menu.
Gone was the white-knuckle-ride golf that saw them set a scorching pace in the Spanish sunshine, replaced by a more conservative four-under-par 67.
But that was more than enough for the English duo to keep their nearest challengers in the 58-strong field at bay.
At the close, their advantage had been trimmed to three as a result of compatriots Michael Jones and Gary Houston posting a second successive round of 65 to finish second on 17-under, two strokes ahead of a five pairs who tied for third place.
The quintet comprised: Matthew Dearden of Wales and France’s Paul Brown; Grant Hamerton and David Smith of England; Italian pair Alessandro Napoleoni and Emanuele Canonica; and previosu winners Simon Edwards of Wales and England’s David Shacklady.
Edwards and Shacklady won the tournament in 2004, the last time it was contested before being revived in 2011.
The less expansive approach from the latest winning pair was anything but deliberate, however.
“The course was a lot tougher today,” said McGuire. “There was more wind than we’d had on the first two days and the pin positions were trickier. Not that we’re complaining – it’s a very challenging course, which can reward you if you’re prepared to take risks.”
In terms of rewards, that approach paid dividends as the pair did not record a bogey until the 42nd hole of the tournament.
One more followed, at the 18th, by which time the pair were assured of claiming the €4,500 winner’s cheque.
A half share of that, however, was not the only plus point for Swinburn.
“Playing a tournament like this in such good conditions a couple of months before the season starts is great preparation,” he said. “The course was also in brilliant condition and the hospitality superb so, hopefully, more pairs will enter next year. We certainly intend to will be to defend our trophy.”
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Spanish hosts keen to build on tournament’s success
The Spanish hosts of this year’s PGAs of Europe Fourball Championship were so delighted with the event’s success they not only want to stage the tournament again but also double its size.
The tournament, which was won by England’s Matt McGuire and Craig Swinburn, was staged at the Lumine Golf and Beach Club on Spain’s Costa Dorada.
It was contested by 58 pairs from across Europe over the resort’s Greg Norman-designed Lakes course.
Now Calle Carlsson, general manager the Lumine Golf and Beach Club, is looking to attract twice that number in 2013 and bring the resort’s Hills course into play.
He said: “This event was arranged at relatively short notice and we’re delighted with the numbers who entered.
“And it has been so successful we’re looking to get 120 pairs next year. We’ve got two very different but challenging courses here and we’d use them both.”
Carlsson added that holding the event again was dependent on the Costa Dorada region continuing its support of the event.
However, the signs are hopeful given that Octavi Bono, general manager Patronat de Turisme, Costa Dorada, was similarly delighted with the way this year’s tournament had panned out.
He said: “The event was a great success and we want to build on it to help promote our region as a golfing destination. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to stage it again for the next two years at least.”
Meanwhile, the PGAs of Europe will return to the Lumine Golf and Beach Club somewhat sooner as the Coaches Circle and Heads of Training conference are being held there next month.
Ian Randell, the PGAs of Europe chief executive, hopes the tournament and five-day visit in March will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship.
He said: “Everything has been first class, especially the facilty and the hospitality. We hope this is the start of a long partnership between the PGAs of Europe, the Costa Dorada Region and the Lumine Golf and Beach Club.”
Day 2 – Four-Stroke lead for Swinburn and McGuire at Lumine
The better-ball format, so popular in the heat of Ryder Cup battle and a welcome alternative for golf pros so used to going it alone, is proving an absolute winner as the PGAs of Europe’s Fourball Championship gains momentum at Lumine Golf and Beach Club, on Spain’s Costa Dorada.
None more so than for the Craig Swinburn and Matt McGuire – the overnight leaders with their ten-under 61- who added a 65 to that phenomenal opening and thereby completed a two-round score of sixteen under par for a four-stroke lead.
If not yet unassailable it will certainly become so if they can keep up their excellent work.
After 36 holes their score has been unsullied by dropped shots as those 16 birdies have graced their cards. For their first six holes of the second round they were content to par their way…then their scoring mania began again with six birdies in the final 12 holes and four in the last six.
Nearest to them are three pairs, Grant Hamerton/David Smith, John Harrison/ Peter Dahlberg and Miro Raic/Sebastian Ajster. The Slovenians added a 67 to their 63 to join the other two teams on twelve under.
With two rounds now under their belt, and course knowledge intensified, the leading challengers took advantage of the tempting chance it offers to rack up the birdies and the occasional eagle while eliminating bogeys on day two, a round delayed for an hour by overnight frost.
Typical, was another pair of Slovenians, Danny and Andrej Kraljic, who hauled themselves into a challenging position for the third and final round with an unblemished six-under-par 65 containing birdies at six holes between the third and 16th for a second round total of eleven under.
English pairing Hamerton and Smith also kept a bogey off their card for a 67 level with the mixed-nation team comprised of England’s Harrison and Dahlberg (Sweden) on the same score after a 66 showing one dropped stroke, at the 14th.
They were just one ahead of Michael Jones and Gary Houston who, by adding a 65 to their overnight 66, displayed not only their scoring consistency but also, on eleven-under, the capacity to give themselves an outside chance on the final day.
One of the day’s best rounds was a seven-bi rdie 64 by Jonathan Cheetham and Mark Bradley, six strokes better than the previous day for an impressive, if not not challenging, eight under.
As in the first round, past champions Simon Edwards and David Shacklady left no doubt of their intention to win back the crown by adding a 67 to their 65 for a ten-under place. From they may be just able to launch a winning onslaught ( as did Mariano Saiz and Mikel Galdos with their matching 66-66) but only if those ahead of them lose their touch.
Beside them on the leaderboard were David Borda and Ion Garcia who seemed to acquire a happy habit in round two of conjuring lethal scoring bursts with birdies at 1-2-3 then 9-10-11 and finally 17-18.
Day 1 – Perfect Round for Swinburn/ McGuire…& Perfect Start for Lumine
When the Lumine Beach and Golf Resort, made the ambitious decision to stage the PGAs of Europe’s Fourball Championship, their aim was to present a truly international competition to reinforce their longer-term aim of unveiling Spain’s Costa Dorada as a desirable golfing destination.
In the event it took merely one day, and one round to confirm the accuracy of their strategy as the first round of the 54-hole tournament saw pairs of PGA pros from 18 countries rejoicing in the popular better-ball format to sprinkle birdie putts across the excellent golf course.
Players from England, Wales, Croatia Slovenia, Sweden and elsewhere were up there high on the leader board as a pair from the Midland region of the UK, Matt McGuire and Craig Swinburn, set the standard with a ten-under-par opening round of 61.
Featuring ten birdies and eight pars their team golf could only be described as ‘perfect’ with its lack of dropped shots and constant supply of single putts.
Until they cruised confidently into a two-stroke lead the mark had been set for a considerable period by two pairs on five under par, Paul Brown and Ivo Giner, and Matthew Dearden and Ian Brown but then the competition hotted up quickly as the Grant Hamerton/David Smith and Miro Raic/ Sebastian Ajster pairs moved into joint-second position on eight under par.
Seasoned campaigner John Harrison (England), teamed up with Peter Dahlberg (Sweden), was not far behind on seven under and, no doubt all four of those leading pairs could see clearly in their wing mirrors that the pre-tournament favourites, Simon Edwards and David Shacklady, were in close pursuit.
Before the Fourball Championship ‘took a break’, the Welshman and his English partner had won the title when it was played in southern Spain, while Edwards had also won it a year earlier partnered by James Lee.
Edwards will have a hat-trick in his sights but judging by the scoring by the leading bunch on Day 1, and especially by the sheer excellence displayed by Swinburn and McGuire, Lumine has two more days of international quality on its agenda.
Exciting Golfing Future Beckons for Spain’s Costa Daurada
On the eve of the PGAs of Europe’s Fourball Championship being staged for the first time at Lumine Golf and Beach Resort, the surrounding Costa Dorada region of Spain was officially unveiled and acclaimed as ‘a new destination for golf tourism.’
The far-reaching proclamation of this ideal and idyllic location as a ‘must visit’ destination for golfers from far and wide, amateur and professional, was made by the Tourist Board of the Tarragona provincial government as they also announced a promotional collaboration with the PGAs of Europe.
The press conference was staged to emphasise the important role that golf will play in the development of tourism to the region and the significant contribution that the PGAs of Europe will make in the coming years as a promotional and marketing aid with the necessary experience and expertise.
The occasion took place at the Provincial Council Palace Tarragona, and was attended by Josep Poblet, President of the Provincial Council Tarragona, Ian Randell, Chief Executive PGA Europe, Lluís Rullán, President of Mediterranea Beach & Golf Community and Xavier Graset, alderman of Tourism at Vila-Seca.
Each of these dignitaries highlighted the outstanding quality of the golfing facilities in the area that features seven golf courses, three in Lumine (a total of 45 holes), one in Bonmont, one in Aiguesverds, one in Costa Dorada and another one in La Graiera.
Josep Poblet, underlined the quality of this ‘new benchmark’ for Costa Dorada provided by the PGAs of Europe and added that it is ‘closely linked to the recognition and prestige that this sport bring’ for tourism’.
Luis Rullán, stressed that ‘not all efforts are focused on attracting foreign tourists, as the sport is being adopted more and more by local residents. ‘About 50% of the clients at Lumine Golf are residents of the province, a very positive balance for a sport that is growing in Tarragona’, he said.
Ian Randell commented that among the challenges for his association is to collaborate with and promote new golfing destinations, including involvement in joint healthy growth projects. He also stressed that ‘our intention is to create a long term relationship in which the bond is strong and solid’.
The PGA Europe is an organisation of 38 PGAs from countries around Europe and beyond, comprising a total of 21,000 golf professionals.
Lumine will play a crucial role in the continuing of the PGAs of Europe Fourball Championship which was relaunched in Turkey last year after a lengthy absence and is to be played in this exciting new golfing region over 54 holes on February 21/23. A full-house entry of 58 pairs of PGA pros will participate, amounting to 120 professional from 18 different nations.