We returned to Portugal for our Greencard Golf Holidays Algarve event over the New Year period. Our base to see in 2018 and to tee off the 2018 season was once again the recently refurbished Dona Filipa hotel which is returning to it’s former self as a quality golf destination. The golf programme including four rounds on San Lorenzo and one on the Royal course at Vale do Lobo.
A Sunny Winter Escape
Winter golf holidays in the Algarve always offer a nice to escape the weather in the UK after Christmas, and with the exception of one cloudy day we enjoyed lovely temperatures and wonderful sunshine.
Harris & Spencer Combo Claim the AM-AM
The opening round was the team game which was held on the Vale do Lobo Royal course. This acclaimed course is among the top 100 best golf courses in Europe. Its features include the almost island green of the 9th and the famous 16th, with its cliff-top carry over one of the most famous golfing images in the World.
We set off under blue cloudless skies and there were many pairs of shorts on view, which had been out of action for several weeks due to the UK winter!
The format was two scores to count on each hole. The victory went to the team including Ian Harris, Julie Harris, Tim Spencer and Sue Spencer. They managed to score 88 and had a winning margin of just three points.
Round 1: Joint Leaders to end the Year
The following day was New Year’s Eve and we made our way to San Lorenzo for the first round of the individual stableford competition. It is a wonderful golf course in a truly stunning setting alongside the Atlantic. Since opening in 1988, it has been consistently ranked alongside the best courses in the world. There are countless spectacular holes, San Lorenzo’s considerable reputation is not for nothing – this terrific course does not disappoint.
Ian Harris continued his good form from the team game finishing with 34 points, a score matched only by Colin Baker. Neil Ratcliffe was one back on 33. Mark Stacey and Ian James Bailey both shot 32. Sue Spencer, Gwyneth Fielding and Jayne Fletcher all carded 30 points, the leading score for the ladies.
2018 Welcomed in Great Gatsby Style
After the golf, we all returned to the hotel to prepare for New Year’s Eve. The evening had a theme from the “Great Gatsby” era. Following the hotel cocktail, we all moved to the main restaurant for the gala dinner. The hotel had certainly improved on many levels since our last visit. The food was excellent and the whole evening flowed with plenty to eat and drink until the fireworks signalled the start of 2018.
The next day people recovered from the night before by either chilling out in the hotel, playing a bit more golf or visiting one of the nearby restaurants overlooking the beach to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
Round 2: Ian Harris Extends his Lead Over Two Years
We returned to San Lorenzo the following day for the second round. Sue Spencer, playing off a handicap of 4, certainly enjoyed her first round of the year finishing the day with a superb 39 points. This moved Sue into second place overall on 69. Ian Harris had another excellent round with 37 to maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard with a score of 71 at the half way stage. Neil Ratcliffe started 2018 with a solid round of 36, which was enough to keep him in third place. Keith Judson made his way into the leading fourball with a superb 35 points.
Round 3: Sue Spencer Makes Her Move
The third round was played under more sunny skies. Sue Spencer cemented her place at the top of the leaderboard with a superb 37 points. Colin Baker continued his excellent run of form with 36 and Sam Judson enjoyed her best round of the week with 34 points, a score matched by Ian James Bailey.
Going into the final round Sue Spencer had a four shot lead over Ian Harris. Neil Ratcliffe was still in third place three further back following his 30 points in the previous round. Ian James Bailey lying on 98 points made up the fourth member of the final group.
Memories from our 2018 Greencard Golf Holidays Algarve Event
Round 4: Looking Close Over Final Holes
It would take a great effort to overtake Sue Spencer given her current form but after nine holes of the final round Ian Harris had closed the gap to two points and we all knew that anything can happen over the closing holes on San Lorenzo.
One of the great things about the 18th on this course is that the location of the green makes a perfect amphitheatre for the group to watch players finish their rounds. This hole is a test at the best of times, requiring a drive over water followed by an approach of around 150 yards to an island green surrounded by bunkers. The difficulty level is raised significantly when you are so close to victory and have many of the Greencard group watching the events unfold.
Charging Finishes in the Pack
Earlier in the day Gary Corbett had finished with a tremendous 41 points, it would prove to be the best score of the day and move him up the leaderboard into tenth place. Bob Kerr completed the event in ninth place and Keith Judson enjoyed his best result in a Greencard event finishing in eighth.
Anne Bridges, a five handicapper, shot another round in the 30’s to secure seventh place. Meanwhile Ian James Bailey ensured that he remained in the top six after a final round of 28.
Contenders keep up the pressure until the last
As the final group played their approach shots to the 18th semi island green, we were unaware if Sue Spencer had been caught. Neil Ratcliffe found the front greenside bunker but then completed a superb up and down to end the day with 36 and a total of 135. Ian Harris secured a point on the last to bring his total to 134 and third place overall.
Sue Spencer tops the podium for first win of 2018 season
Huge congratulations to Sue Spencer. After finishing third in this event two years ago, her final round of 33 and an overall total of 139 secured victory by four points and confirmed her qualification to the Grand Finals, held at Quinta do Lago later in the year.
Thank you to everybody who took part in the event and made it such a wonderful week. We will be announcing the venue for the 2018/19 New Year event as soon as possible.
Greencard Order of Merit and Tour Points 2018
We are delighted to confirm that we are continuing Order of Merit system through the 2018 season. This is in addition to the original Tour Points system, which remains unchanged. The Order of Merit ensures that everyone is in the race to qualify for the Grand Finals every time they play. Finish first in any round and you receive 20 Order of Merit points, second collects 19 points etc down to twentieth place with 1 point. At the end of the season the top 3 placed on the Order of Merit, excluding those who have qualified on the Tour Points system, also qualify for the Grand Finals.