THE European Tour’s innovative GolfSixes event will enter a new era in 2019 when it moves to continental Europe for the first time.
Portugal’s Municipality of Cascais and the spectacular Oitavos Dunes is set to host GolfSixes Cascais, from June 7-8.
The idyllic Portuguese region of Cascais will play host to the third edition of an event with its unique format, following two hugely successful editions at St Albans’ Centurion Club, in Hertfordshire.
It will be the first time the tournament will be held outside of the UK, and is being hosted in partnership with the Municipality of Cascais and event and Media agency U.COM – which stages the ATP’s annual Millennium Estoril Open 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.
Ireland emerged as last year’s GolfSixes champions when Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan overcame a French team comprising Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Romain Wattel in the final.
The young Irish duo lost just one of their six matches over the two days of competition.
They dethroned the 2017 champions, Danish pair Lucas Bjerregaard – who has since won two titles on the European Tour – and Thorbjørn Olesen.
The latter put his match-play experience to good use as part of Thomas Bjørn’s triumphant European team at the 2018 Ryder Cup, in September.
Portuguese European Tour player Ricardo Gouveia said: “This is very exciting news for Portuguese golf.
“I played the very first GolfSixes in 2017 and it was a fantastic event which all the players really enjoyed.
“Hopefully this exciting format can inspire the next generation of Portuguese golfers.”
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: “I am thrilled with how the world of golf has embraced GolfSixes and this truly is an exciting development as we take this event to continental Europe for the first time.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the Municipality of Cascais and U.COM for their vision in bringing GolfSixes to a Portuguese audience and it is sure to be a fantastic couple of days in Cascais next June.”
U.COM chief executive Dirk Glittenberg said: “GolfSixes is a brilliant concept which has the potential to change how sports fans around the world view the game of golf, and everyone at U.COM is very excited about bringing it to Portugal for the first time.
“We believe this can be transformative for the image of golf in Portugal.”
Miguel Montez Champalimaud, general manager of Oitavos Dunes, said: “We are incredibly enthusiastic about having this pioneer event at our venue.”
Carlos Carreiras, Mayor of Cascais, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this event in continental Europe for the first time and we intend to make it the best GolfSixes ever.
“We look forward to welcoming golf fans, and viewers from all around the globe, to our beautiful destination in the western most point of Europe this June.”
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, a registered charity with the aim of bringing golf to young people, has 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, in association with the European Tour, the R&A, England Golf, Wales Golf and Scottish Golf.
Early results showed nearly 30 per cent of participants have been girls.
The GolfSixes concept has also been rolled out in Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.
England Golf chief executive Nick Pink said: “GolfSixes is a perfect way to introduce newcomers to the game, to keep playing at the busiest times of life, and also to continue playing into later life.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from our members with 114 clubs entering our first GolfSixes competition.”
Oitavos Dunes is currently ranked 55th in Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the World, while it is listed as Portugal’s No. 1 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 Pablo Martin Benavides, Grégory Bourdy and Michael Hoey respectively.