La Manga was home to the Greencard Finals for many years but it is nearly a decade since we were last here for the end our end of season festival of golf.
All set for a great week at a newly restored La Manga Club
Things have improved, the practice facilities are now fantastic with a large driving range, short game area and practise studios. The accommodation offers guests the choice of staying in either the hotel or apartments.
The venue is easily accessible from the several of the UK’s regional airports into either Murica, which is located just 15 minutes from the hotel or Alicante. In short it is the perfect set up for a Greencard Finals event.
There were five rounds to be played in the week 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 Finals which included the defending champion from 2016 plus all those who had qualified from the Tour Points and Order of Merit Lists.
The remaining four rounds would be a stableford format. By the end of the week we would know the overall winner of the 2017 Greencard Tour and Masters.
We were fortunate to have Paul McLean the Greencard staff PGA pro with us for the week. Many of our clients have already benefitted from the teaching aspect that Paul brings to these events.
The weather forecast for the week was excellent with sunshine promised for all but one day, where there was due to be rain around. While temperatures in the UK were falling and the clocks having moved back one hour for winter, it was certainly a pleasure to be here.
Two Neils’, Roger and Anne take the team title
The team game was played on the tricky West course. Position off the tee is crucial to accumulating a good score here and with so many risk and reward shots on offer the design lends itself to a team game.
The team including Neil Ratcliffe, Anne Bridges, Neil McGarva and Roger Lascelles took the victory with 85 points from Peter Roe, Janette Roe, Neil Gillam and Neil Marr who ended the day with 83.
Tough tests to both the North & South
The golf programme for the remainder of the event included two rounds on each of the main courses. The South course is considered the most challenging of these with bunkered greens, wide palm fringed fairways and ravines. The North course is less demanding, but more picturesque then the South. However, the ravines come into play more often.
Round 1: Phil Raybone makes strong start to Finals
The first round of the main event was held on the North course and with a two tee start in place, all the players were soon in action. Phil Raybone made an excellent start to proceedings with 36 points. Both Neil Marr and Neil McGarva finished on 35 with Anthony Trafford and last year’s Tour Champion Ian Robinson, just one further back on 34. Pauline Crosthwaite was the early leading lady on 33.
Masters Round 1: Neil Ratcliffe equals best of the day
In the Masters Neil Ratcliffe had matched the leading score of the Tour event with 36. Bob Kerr enjoyed the day and came in with 35 points. Tony Wells ended his round with 33 and Keith Judson carded a 31. Lynn Merilion (Borg) was the leading lady on 30.
Round 2: Defending Champion makes his move
The second round took place the following morning on the South course. After two days of wonderful sunshine and blue sky it was a different picture as the clouds rolled in and brought with them heavy showers. Fortunately, it was not too long before the rain passed allowing the majority of the round to be played in decent and dry conditions.
Ian Robinson continued his form from the first round, this time scoring 33 points which cemented his place at top of the Tour leaderboard at the half way stage. Alistair Walker matched Ian Robinson’s 33 and his cumulative total of 65 was just two behind the leader. Neil McGarva did not enjoy his finest day on the course but he battled to a respectable 29 points and after his fine round on day one, was only three off the lead in third. Pauline Crosthwaite retained her position as leading lady with 30 points and 63 overall.
Masters Round 2: Bob Kerr leads at halfway
Meanwhile in the Masters, Tony Wells had the best score of the day with 32, Bob Kerr and James Fielding both carded rounds of 31 and Richard Manders shot a 30. At the half way stage, Bob Kerr was leading by one point with 66 from Tony Wells. Neil Ratcliffe having scored 28 in the second round was in third place on 64. Richard Manders was fourth with 60 and Lynn Merilion was in sixth place and leading lady on a total of 57.
The free day followed, which gave people the chance to relax around the hotel, play another round or explore the local area.
Round 3: Magnificent Marr scores 42 & surges into 4 point lead
We were soon back in action as the third round took place the next day on the North course. In the Tour, Neil Marr shot one of the rounds of his life on his birthday, his 42 points was five points better than any other player on the day. Charlie Higgins and Peter Roe also had excellent rounds finishing with 37 points. Meanwhile, Ian Robinson, Neil Gillam and Neil McGarva all ended the round with 34 points.
With one round to play Neil Marr had a total of 105 and held a four shot lead over Ian Robinson. Neil McGarva was in third on 98 and Alistair Walker was the last member of the final fourball on 97. It promised to be a close finish to this year’s Tour Finals.
Masters Round 3: Consistent Kerr maintains lead
In the Masters, John O’Keeffe had filtered out the unnecessary swing thoughts and as a result hit top form. His 36 points was the score of the day and moved him up the leaderboard. Bob Kerr continued his impressive golf with 35 points whilst Neil Ratcliffe, James Fielding, Kathleen Lucey and Anne Bridges all finished the day on 33.
Bob Kerr on 101 held a four point lead over Neil Ratcliffe and Tony Wells who were both on a total of 97. James Fielding was in fourth place on 90 and Anne Bridges had now moved into the position of leading lady on 85 points. As in the Tour, the Masters was also going to provide an exciting finish.
The final round was held on the South course the next morning. This time it was the ladies’ turn to top the leaderboard in the Masters. Jeannie O’Keeffe led the way with a tremendous 35 points, it was enough to move into fifth overall and claim the place of leading lady. Lynn Merilion shot a 32 and finished in seventh place. Janette Roe found her form in the final round with 31.
Masters Final Round: Battling Bob Kerr holds off late charge
The overnight leaders were not finding it easy to take control of the tournament. James Fielding had an unsettling start from the first tee but then bounced back to finish with 30 points and secure fourth position overall. Tony Wells matched James Fielding’s score and ended with 127 in third place. Bob Kerr was struggling a little and he battled to get to 29 points in the final round.
It was now a question of whether Neil Ratcliffe could take advantage and overcome the initial four point deficit. He came close but ended the round with 31, a total of 128 points for the event and second place overall, one shot ahead of Tony Wells. Bob Kerr had played well all week and deserved to take the 2017 Masters title.
Final Round: Colin Baker leaps up leaderboard
Meanwhile in the Tour Finals Colin Baker made a charge from the back with a fantastic 35 points, it was enough to move him up to eleventh overall. Sam Judson, Chris Hegarty and Sandie Klimcke all shot 33 points. This moved Sandie above Pauline Crosthwaite to claim the position of leading lady and seventh overall.
Brian Haynes makes a title claim
Prior to the round starting it was likely that the winner would come from the final two fourballs. Brian Haynes made a claim for victory with 35 points and whilst ultimately it proved not to be enough to chase down the leaders it moved him up to a final position of fourth.
The whole season comes down to the final hole
The 18th hole on the South course is a slight dog leg par 5 with a large water hazard across the front of the green. It is a wonderful finishing hole and we gathered around the green as the leaders made their way up the final fairway. The approach to this green is a nerve wracking affair in normal circumstances but it is taken to another level when the Tour title is on the line.
Nerves tingling on the 18th green?
Ian Robinson played his ball into the front left greenside bunker, Neil Marr found the right hand bunker. Neil McGarva and Alistair Walker found the putting surface in regulation. Neil Marr and Ian Robinson then played out of the bunker leaving long putts for par. Alistair Walker made his par completing a solid round of 32 points. It would move him into fifth place overall with 129. Ian Robinson left his putt short but then holed a tricky one for a bogey and two points. Neil Marr also missed his putt and again holed at the second attempt. Neil McGarva’s approach was the closest, but he failed to capitalise and also took two putts to complete the hole.
Three players have putts to win
These last few moments on the 18th green ultimately settled the overall positions. Ian Robinson, Neil Marr and Neil McGarva all had putts to win the title. All just missed and as a result Ian Robinson and Neil Marr both finished on 134 and Neil McGarva on 133 points. This resulted in Ian Robinson retaining his title on countback, a feat which has never before been achieved in the history of Greencard. It was an extraordinary end to the week and after 72 holes, it really does not get any closer.
Huge congratulations to both our champions Bob Kerr and Ian Robinson on their tremendous achievements. A massive thank you to all who attended the Finals week and made it so enjoyable.
Indeed, congratulations to all our tournament winners and thank you to everyone who took part in all our 2017 events we’ve had some great times, stayed and played in some stunning locations and built more fantastic memories – thank you.
We will return with our opening tournament of the 2018 season with our New Year Golf Holiday in the Algarve and build up to our 2018 Grand Finals at Quinta do Lago next October. We look forward to seeing you all soon.
All our events for the 2018 season will be available on our Tournament Calendar page. We look forward to seeing you again on Tour soon.
2017 Grand Finals Winners Pictures:
2017 Grand Finals & Masters Finishing Leaderboards
|Name||Total Pts||H’cap||Rnd 1||Rnd 2||Rnd 3||Rnd 4|
2017 MASTERS FINISHING LEADERBOARD
|Name||Total Pts||H’cap||Rnd 1||Rnd 2||Rnd 3||Rnd 4|