It is six years since Greencard held a tour event in this part of Europe and a return was long overdue. Cascais is a delightful and vibrant fishing village with an abundance of quality restaurants and bars. Located just 45 minutes drive from Lisbon airport, this beautiful rocky coast is Europe’s most westerly point and is home to some of the best courses in Portugal.
We stayed at the Senhora da Guia, a five star boutique hotel, set in lovely surroundings with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The centre of Cascais was only a few minutes drive.
The golf programme for the week included one round at Belas, two rounds at Estoril and one round at Oitavos.
Team Pepper, Trafford Owens & Baker tee us off with a win
The weather forecast for the week was wonderful with sunshine and blue sky promised for each day of the event.
The team game was played at Belas Golf Club, whilst there were some interesting holes on the course, the dry summer had taken its toll and the fairways were not in the best condition. Nevertheless, the team including Glyn Pepper, Anthony Trafford, Ken Owens and Melanie Baker were on form and their 84 points was enough to take the victory.
Round 1: Putting the key at historic Estoril
The following day we had the opening round of the individual stableford event at Estoril Golf Club. This is one of the country’s oldest courses and has hosted the Portugese Open on many occasions in the past. The condition of the course was excellent with lush fairways and quick greens. Whilst not the longest of courses, the greens were very difficult. If you found yourself on the wrong side of the pin, a two putt was a good result.
Glyn Pepper continued his form from the previous day as he shot the day’s best score with a superb 35 points. Charlie Higgins also enjoyed the course finishing on 32. Colin Baker and David Martin both ended the round with 31 points. Colin required three tour points to qualify for the finals week.
Round 2: Estoril – the sequel
We returned to Estoril the next morning for the second round. Having played the course already the players knew where to aim on these tricky greens and it wasn’t always at the flag. Charlie Higgins was finding consistency as he completed another round of 32 points, which was also the leading score of the day. Kevin Pepper had a solid game ending with 31. Meanwhile, Colin’s quest for qualification was going well after he carded 27 points.
Higgins breaks away at halfway and seeks maiden tour title
At the half way stage Charlie Higgins was leading the field on 64 points. Glyn Pepper was in second place, four shots back. Colin Baker was lying third with 58 followed by David Martin on 55. Sue Elliott was the leading lady in eighth place on 49. Sue required an eighth place finish or better to qualify for the finals week.
The rest day followed the second round and the group took advantage of the glorious weather by relaxing around the swimming pool or taking in some of the local sights.
Round 3: High scoring at Penha Longa
It was soon back to business as the third round took place at Penha Longa Atlantic. This Robert Trent Jones designed course is rated in Portugal’s top ten and offers wonderful views over Estoril to the sea beyond.
This time it was the turn of Kevin Pepper to secure the day’s best score with 37. Glenn Harris shot 36 and Sue Elliott with qualification in her sights had another excellent day on the course finishing the round with 35 points. Meanwhile, our half way leader birdied the par 5, 18th hole to shoot 33 and extend his lead at the top of the leaderboard to six points from Kevin Pepper. Glyn didn’t have his best day but 29 points secured his position in the final fourball for the last round.
Final Round: Stunning Oitavos Dunes great location for last 18 of the season
The final round of our regular season before the Grand Finals, was held at the magnificent Oitavos Dunes, rated number two in Portugal and fifteen in Europe. This wonderful course designed by Arthur Hills combines links and woodland
Nervy start for our leader
Charlie Higgins did not have the dream start, he pulled his opening tee shot into the woods lining the first fairway. From here it was a battle to save a point and unfortunately his putt missed and he came off the first green with no score. Meanwhile, Kevin Pepper had secured his bogey and two points, whilst Glyn Pepper had a great up and down for par and three points. After just one hole the gap at the top had been reduced back to just four points.
The next hole is a short par 4 with a tricky green. Charlie reacted well to the previous hole and made a solid par. This calmed the nerves and set the foundation for what would be a superb front nine. Seven pars followed and at the half way stage he had shot 21 points. Kevin Pepper was also playing well but his 18 points after nine holes gave Charlie a 9 shot lead with just the back nine to play.
Kevin Pepper piles on the pressure
It doesn’t matter how well you are playing, closing out a tournament win is never an easy task. On the 10th hole, Charlie tried to steer his approach shot onto the green but pushed it slightly to the right and it slipped out of bounds. The next three holes gave the leader six points, however, Kevin was still pushing hard to catch him. The gap was comfortable but then a run of two holes without scoring gave Kevin hope. It would be a chase to the finish line.
The final two holes at Oitavos are long par 4’s. A good drive is required to set up an approach to these greens. On the 17th Kevin’s drive found the right hand side of the fairway, whilst Charlie pulled his into the trees on the left. Fortunately, the ball rebounded off the trees and ended up on the fairway. However, it was a long way from the green and his subsequent approach shot ended just short of the putting surface.
A chip and a couple of putts ensured another point on the scorecard. Kevin had played his second shot to the front edge of the green and after he chipped close, his putt just evaded the hole. It would ensure that Charlie would have an unassailable lead with one hole to play. The pressure was off and it meant that the leader could enjoy the last few shots of the tournament. His eventual 30 points and 127 overall gave him victory by three shots from Kevin, who ended the day with a solid 33. Glyn Pepper secured third position after shooting 27 in the last round.
Colin Baker & Sue Elliott qualify for the finals
Meanwhile the best score of the day had come from David Martin. His 36 points moved him up into fifth position overall. Colin Baker’s 30 points confirmed a sixth place finish and gave him the necessary tour points for qualification to the finals week. Sue Elliott had another great round and her 31 points also secured qualification for the finals.
La Manga Club qualifiers confirmed
As this was the last event of the season, we can now confirm that in addition to those players who have qualified for the finals at La Manga Club through the tour points system, Debbie Morgan, Melanie Baker and Maggie Lowe have all qualified through the Order of Merit. Congratulations to you all.
After prize giving the whole group had dinner at one of the local restaurants – please click the image gallery below. It was a great night and one that will live in the memory.
Huge thanks to everybody for making the week such a success and congratulations to Charlie Higgins on his maiden Greencard Tour victory.
See our final 2017 Tour Points and Order of Merit Tables by clicking below: