DEFENDING champions Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan will be hoping to have Irish eyes smiling once again, this time on Portuguese soil, when the pair combine again for their country in GolfSixes Cascais from June 7-8.
Team Ireland emerged victorious in the second edition of GolfSixes last year at Hertfordshire’s Centurion Golf Club, when Dunne and Moynihan triumphed over the French pairing of Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Romain Wattel in a dramatic finale.
They dethroned the 2017 champions, Danish pair Lucas Bjerregaard – who has since won two titles on the European Tour – and Thorbjørn Olesen, who 16 months later put his match-play experience to good use as part of Thomas Bjørn’s triumphant European team at September’s Ryder Cup.
Dunne and Moynihan are sure to have plenty of support in a region which attracts large numbers of Irish tourists, and they are relishing the opportunity to defend the title at Oitavos Dunes, in Cascais, close to Lisbon.
“I can’t wait to return to the GolfSixes alongside Gavin at a new venue this June”, said Dunne, whose maiden European Tour victory came at the 2017 British Masters, when he chipped in at the final hole to beat Rory McIlroy to the title.
“Gavin and I had so much fun last year. It’s an event which the players can really enjoy as well as the fans. The atmosphere has always been incredible at GolfSixes and I am sure that will be the same in Cascais. Portugal is renowned for its golf courses so I am sure they will embrace the event.”
Moynihan said: “GolfSixes was probably the best week of last year and one of the best memories of my career so far. To represent my country alongside Paul was such an honour and to go on and win the event made it even more special.
“It will be really exciting to defend our title at a new venue and I have heard great things about the area of Cascais, so hopefully the Irish fans will come out in force to support us.”
The innovative event, in which teams compete over six holes in greensomes match play format, broke new ground last year when it introduced an all-female team and a mixed Captains team featuring 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and 2019 Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew.
This year, an exciting new era dawns for the GolfSixes when it moves to the Portuguese seaside resort of Cascais and Oitavos Dunes Golf Club for the third edition.
It will be the first time the tournament will be held outside of the United Kingdom, and it will be hosted in partnership with the Municipality of Cascais and Event/Media agency U.COM – which stages the annual Millennium Estoril Open, an ATP Tennis Championship, in the same region.
The event will follow the same ground-breaking format as the 2018 GolfSixes, with four “wildcard teams” – featuring stars of male and female golf – joining 12 other two-man teams of European Tour players representing their home nations.
The exciting two-day tournament will also be played over a Friday and Saturday for the first time. With the UEFA Nations League Final and third-place play-off taking place in Portugal on Sunday, June 9, an exciting weekend is in store for Portuguese sports fans and tourists alike.
The GolfSixes format has not only proven a huge success on the European Tour – with the 2018 Ryder Cup also featuring the concept as part of its build-up at Le Golf National – but it has also been adopted across the grassroots of golf.
The Golf Foundation, the registered charity which aims to bring golf to young people, has – in association with the European Tour, the R&A, England Golf, Wales Golf and Scottish Golf – launched a GolfSixes League throughout Britain for juniors.
Since May, 24 leagues have been staged across 22 UK regions, involving 112 golf clubs and nearly 1,500 junior golfers. Early results showed that nearly 30 per cent of participants have been girls. The GolfSixes concept has also been rolled out in Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.
Oitavos Dunes is currently ranked 55th in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, while it is listed as Portugal’s number one golf course.
It has hosted the Open de Portugal on four occasions, first in 2005 when Paul Broadhurst emerged victorious, and then in three years in succession in 2007, 2008 and 2009, won by then amateur Pablo Martin Benavides, Grégory Bourdy and Michael Hoey respectively.