Quinta do Lago in Portugal has been the home of the Greencard Finals week for several years. The venue is ideal in offering excellent accommodation options and quality golf courses. However, there was a feeling that a change was required and in 2015, we decided to introduce a rota system.
Going forward we will have three venues and run them in order. It was a given that Quinta do Lago would be one of these and La Manga in Spain also made an ideal partner. This left one place to fill and in the end we opted for the Intercontinental Mar Menor in conjunction with the Jack Nicklaus courses.
New Venue on the Finals Rota
Mar Menor offered easy access from the several of the UK’s regional airports into either Murica, which is located just 15 minutes from the hotel or Alicante.
The accommodation comprised of the five star Intercontinental Hotel and the Residences which offered two bedroom apartments. The hotel rooms overlooked the pool and Mar Menor golf course. There were eating options onsite and an Irish bar which was frequented regularly by the Greencarders providing an ideal spot to meet up in the evenings. There were other dining options a short drive from the hotel.
The golf programme included five rounds with the usual Am Am being held on the first day. Thereafter the group would be split into the Greencard Masters and the Greencard Tour event which included all those who had qualified from the Tour Points and Order of Merit Lists. The remaining four rounds would be stableford format. By the end of the week we would know the overall winner of the 2016 Greencard Tour and Masters.
Greencard PGA Pro on Hand to Launch New Tuition Breaks
We were fortunate to have Paul McLean the Greencard staff PGA pro with us for the week. Many of the clients benefitted from the teaching aspect that Paul brings to these events. Indeed, in 2017 we are launching our tuition breaks which will be held both in the UK and Europe. We are delighted to report that the bookings are going well, but places are now limited. We are committed to small group numbers to ensure that the tuition remains personal to everybody. You can view the full schedule of our 2017 Tuition Breaks here.
Morgan, Rothwell, Roe & Marr Take AM-AM
Riquelme. The course weaves its way through and around groves of olive trees, wildflower meadows, and large lakes. This close fought affair was eventually won by Jez Morgan, Zack Rothwell, Janette Roe and Neil Marr. The runners up were captained by Neil McGarva and included Phil Raybone, Roger Lascelles and Heather Manders.
Round 1 Finals: Zack Rothwell Leads by Single Point in Desert
The first round of the main event was held at Saurines golf course. This is a desert style golf course with influences of the Nicklaus golf course in Las Vegas. Its main characteristics are undulating fairways and greens among desert dunes, few bunkers and an impressive 6 hectare lake.
In the Tour, the style of course certainly suited Zack Rothewell who ended the day with a superb 36 points. Tim Elliott and Jez Morgan also enjoyed the layout, both finishing just one point behind. Anne Archer was the early leading lady on 34.
Round 1 Masters: Haynes & Fielding Lead After High Scoring 18
The scoring was even higher in the Masters with Brian Haynes and James Fielding both coming in with a tremendous 38 points. Geoff McKinnie was rolling back the years and was just four points behind in third.
The following day was a free day, allowing some of the group to have an additional round whilst others relaxed around the pool enjoying the wonderful sunshine.
Round 2 Finals: Gillam & Robinson Make Their Moves
However, we were soon back to the action with the second round being held at El Valle. The course is situated in a beautiful natural desert valley, creating an open and natural golf experience. The course puts a premium on accuracy rather than power. There are two lakes and two elaborate stream and waterfall systems.
This time in the Tour, it was the turn of Neil Gillam and Ian Robinson to top the leaderboard, both scoring an excellent 38 points. Anthony Trafford finished the day with 36 with Neil McGarva and Glyn Pepper on 34.
Ian Robinson Moves into Finals Halfway Lead
At the half way stage Ian Robinson had taken the lead on 70 points from Zack Rothwell, his second round 32 took his overall total to 68 and just a couple behind the leader. Anthony Trafford had moved up into third place on 67 and Anne Archer was in fourth on 66.
Round 2 Masters: 2015 Overall Champion tops Masters Leaderboard
Meanwhile in the Masters, John Meagher, who was the 2015 Tour Champion, had found his form and shot a superb 37 points and 68 overall. It would be enough to move him to the top of the leaderboard at the half way stage on countback from Brian Haynes. Geoff McKinnie was only one back on 67 points. Melanie Baker was playing some excellent golf and was the leading lady in the Masters at the halfway stage on 61.
Round 3 Finals: Stunning Golf From Ian Robinson Tames the Golden Bear
The third round was held at the Alhama Signature course. Designed and signed in person by Jack Nicklaus, the course constitutes a great challenge for any player due to its perfectly calculated design that makes you think about each stroke. It would certainly be a moving day on both tournaments with many of the holes potentially causing card wrecking moments.
In the Tour, Ian Robinson continued to play stunning golf, he came in with the best score of the day with 39 points. Lodewijk Schlingemann and Dave Rothwell both shot a very respectable 35, while Zack Rothwell was still in touch with the leader after carding a 34. This meant that going into the final round Ian Robinson had a seven shot lead over Zack Rothwell, who was four ahead of David Rothwell, Neil Gillam and Tim Elliott. Anne Archer was two further back but had command of the leading lady position at this stage.
Round 3 Masters: Melvyn Fern Surges to the Top on Moving Day
In the Masters it was Melvyn Fern who choose this moment to come from the pack and head the field going into the last round. His wonderful 36 points, including 20 on the back nine gave him a slender overall lead of one point from John Meagher, who had scored 33 in the third round. Brian Haynes was in third position overall and six off the lead. Alan Orritt had moved up into fourth place after 34 points around the Signature course, a score matched by Irene Munday.
Final Round Masters: It’ll all Come Down to the Back Nine
We returned to El Valle for the final round. The feedback from the group suggested this was the majority’s favourite course. The final two holes run alongside a large lake, ensuring that the pressure on those tee shots coming up the stretch would be quite considerable.
In the Masters, it was tight at the top before the leading group left the first tee. It was difficult to guess which way this would go. Brian Haynes led the way with a fantastic 23 points on the front nine. Alan Orritt was also on form with 21. Meanwhile, Melvyn Fern had 16 on the outward half and John Meagher 14. Alan Orritt had eaten into the gap but Brian Haynes was now level with Melvyn Fern and ahead of John Meagher. It was all to play for on the back nine.
Final round Finals: Could Anyone Catch Ian Robinson
As we teed off in for the final 18 holes of the 2016 Tour Finals clearly Ian Robinson with a seven shot lead was the favourite but as we know anything can happen in golf, particularly in the last stages of a tournament. Closing out a win is hard enough but doing it in the Tour Finals is even tougher.
Indeed, this showed almost immediately as Ian Robinson had his lowest score on the front nine for the event with 15 points. This was a score matched by Zack, who was also struggling a little. David Rothwell was the player to move a little closer to the leader after his 17 on the front.
As the final group made their way through the closing holes, the earlier starters had compiled some great scores. Reuben Fielding and Phil Raybone both shot 37 points whilst Tim Elliott had the best of the day with 38. The question was whether it would be enough to catch the leaders?
Final Round Masters: Leaders Start to Feel the Pressure
Back in the Masters, there’s expression that golf is a game of two halves and this was never more true than in the case of Brian Haynes. After his unbelievable front nine, he just could not quite keep in going and having found the water on the 17th and 18th he returned in just 10 points and a total of 33. Melvyn suffered a similar fate also carding 10 on the back nine and a total of 26 points for the round. Alan Orritt struggled too finishing with 13 on the back but 34 points overall. John Meagher managed to hold things together a little better finishing with 15 but only 29 for the round.
Final Round Masters: Sue Evans Returns Highest Score of the Day
Earlier, Sue Evans had completed her final round in a wonderful 36 points, the highest score of the day in the Masters. Stuart Munday and Roger Lascelles both carded scores of 35 and Melanie Baker hit 31 for the round, which was sufficient to ensure the position of leading lady in the Masters.
Final Round Masters: John Meagher Makes Greencard Historic Double
So with all the low scoring on the back nine by the final group it was still extremely tight. In the end John Meagher won by a single point on 130 from Brian Haynes. Melvyn Fern finished one further back in third and Alan Orritt secured fourth place. There was only three points separating the top four places. Huge congratulations to John as he becomes the first player in the history of Greencard to win back to back Tour and Masters titles.
Final round Finals: A Worthy Champion Crowned on the 18th
And so to the final drama of the 2016 season. The clubhouse at El Valle looks directly over the 18th green and provides a tremendous viewing platform to watch the players hit their approaches to the green and complete their rounds. Zack Rothwell finished his round in style with a par in front on the crowd and David Rothwell ensured that his bogey gave him an even split on the two halves of 34 points.
Meanwhile, Ian had hit his second shot just past the pin on the right hand side of the green. His birdie putt looked good all the way but just lipped out at the last moment. However, a solid par would give him three points and 31 for the round. Ian’s overall total of 140 could not be beaten and it was pleasure to crown him the worthy Tour Champion of 2016.
Tim Elliott’s final round efforts ensured he finished in second place with a score of 136. Phil Raybone came third with 133 and David Rothwell ended the tournament in fourth position. Reuben Fielding was in fifth and Zack Rothwell in sixth. Anne Archer claimed the leading lady prize after playing consistently well all week, with all four rounds over thirty points.
2016 Additional Awards
There were two other awards which must be acknowledged being the 2016 Tour Points List winner and the 2016 Order of Merit winner. Tour points are awarded to the top ten finishing positions of each event throughout the year and the winner with a total of 28 was Neil Gillam.
The order of merit points are awarded to the top twenty places for each tournament round throughout the year. The winner with a total of 242 was Reuben Fielding.
2016 – Another Great Greencard Golf Tour Season. Here’s to 2017!
It has been an amazing year, we started the Tour bringing in the New Year in Portugal before enjoying Thailand and the wonderful South Africa. Further events followed in Europe before we concluded matters in Hilton Head and the Finals.
It has been an absolute pleasure to see you all throughout 2016 and share the memories of each event. Many congratulations to Ian on becoming our 2016 Champion Golfer and to John for backing up his 2015 title with another in 2016. You can see all our previous champions in our Hall of Fame by clicking here.
We cannot wait to welcome you back in 2017 to enjoy the superb venues on offer. View the full 2017 Greencard Golf Tour Schedule here.
Have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to seeing you all soon.