The 21st Final of the World Corporate Golf Challenge Portugal (WCGC) was almost gone with the wind, but the players stood still.
The wind, that factor that so often makes the difference in golf, that enigmatic puzzle, even for the most outstanding champions; that element of nature that has sunk so many dreams of glory, but that can also be an ally for those who know how to accept its challenge.
The Montado Hotel & Golf Resort, normally an authentic cape of good hope, providing pleasant golfing days, has turned into a real cape of storms. Still, even so, many of the 68 participants managed to double it with very positive scores.
Luís Filipe Araújo Pinheiro and Nuno Costa Alemão won the WCGC Portugal Final in Montado
Luís Filipe Araújo Pinheiro and Nuno Costa Alemão, two players who played with an excellent average handicap of 3.0, were the “sailors of the clubs” who managed to master the nightmare better, partly also because they are more used to the blows of the Carregueira mountains.
“We are both players of the Lisbon Sports Club and, therefore, we are used to the wind,” said Nuno Costa Alemão, a player who often appears at the top of the Leaderboards. He was the winner of the 2019 ACP Ranking (Automobile Club of Portugal) and this year, in the Portuguese Golf Federation 2nd tournament of the National Mid-Amateur Tour, he was a reliable 4th place.
Luís Filipe Araújo Pinheiro and Nuno Costa Alemão led the Garofalo team to victory in the WCGC Portuguese Final and, consequently, won the right to play for Portugal in the World Final, from 11 to 15 November, at the Oitavos Dunes, in Cascais.
The good news is that the Oitavos Dunes, stage of the European Tour’s Portuguese Open in the first decade of the 21st century, is known for the strong winds of Guincho.
“The saga of the windy courses must continue. It was so in Estoril, it was so in this one, and it will be like that in the Oitavos. However, in November it may not be as windy”, said again Nuno Costa Alemão, who –in statements to the “Golf Report” TV show from SIC Notícias– had already remembered that they had managed “to qualify for the Portuguese Final at Estoril Golf, on a day that was not easy, because, either I am very wrong, or it was even windier than today”.
Garofalo, one of the sponsors of WCGC Portugal, scored 69 net points and beat the Senivis team of Carlos Tinoco and Samuel Barros by 2 points.
The 3rd place belonged to the Turkish Airlines-2 formation of António Moura Portugal and Miguel Portela Morais, with 66 points.
Altogether there were 34 teams, and the first 13 managed to score 60 or more points, which shows the high level of play that, despite the harsh conditions, was displayed.
In the Portuguese Final, Luís Filipe Araújo Pinheiro contributed with 37 points and Nuno Costa Alemão with 32. Only one more player managed to match this record of the 37 points: Bernardo Paes de Vasconcelos, who played for the Executive Digest team, 5th in the standings, playing alongside Tiago Costa.
“Once again, my partner took me on his back. He played significantly better than me, but we combined two good results, especially considering the tough conditions, with a side wind, which more difficult to read than wind for or against. It was a great afternoon, with great playing partners and only when we arrived here (at the awards ceremony) we heard that we had won”, said Nuno Costa Alemão.
Luís Filipe Araújo Pinheiro, on the other hand, underlined that “we helped each other, we always pushed for each other, and it is imperative to be good friends”, to which his partner added: “We often play together, we are usual partners, we are friends outside of golf, families and children included “.
This friendship will now be fundamental for the World Final, in which Calvin Klein will dress them.
Winning the Portuguese Final, sponsored by Mionetto, had its rewards. As well as the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams, the winners received the Costa Verde trophies, bottles of Distintus olive oil, a cosmetic and hygiene set from Uriage. But the champions also got tickets to a destination of their choice on Turkish Airlines.
The relaxed attitude with which they played at Montado should be replicated at Oitavos Dunes. “Let’s take it one step at a time. We still don’t feel the pressure of being in the World Final. But we will practice and prepare for this,” said Luís Filipe Araújo Pinheiro, who only remembers playing once on that course, while his partner thinks he played there on a dozen occasions.
“It is an excellent course, and that always strives for a fair play. I hope so, to keep the trophy here in Portugal “, predicted Nuno Costa Alemão.
The 2020 WCGC Portugal had a total of six tournaments: five qualifying stages and the Portuguese Final. The tour visited the Palmares Ocean Living & Golf in the Algarve, the Bom Sucesso Resort in Óbidos, the Estoril Golf in the Lisbon area, the Santo da Serra Golf Club in the Madeira island and the Axis Ponte de Lima in Minho.
It was its 21st edition, but the first one under the tutelage of Golftattoo Eventos. At the end of it, there was only praise from the courses, the teams, the players, the sponsors and others involved.
The last three tournaments have already been played under the COVID-19 pandemic atmosphere, following the new health and safety rules of the Portuguese Golf Federation (FPG), with no adverse incidents to report.
“Of course it makes sense (continue to support this tour). Golf has proven to be a safe sport. It is growing a lot among new players. We see this not only in Portugal but also in other countries because people realize that it is an exceptionally safe sport since there is a natural social distance. It makes perfect sense to continue to promote events, as long as all players follow the guidelines, to avoid the spread of this virus,” said Miguel Franco de Sousa, the FPG president.
Miguel Franco de Sousa also played the Portuguese Final, on behalf of the Audi-1 team, alongside with its vice-president Manuel Quinta. “Audi is also a sponsor of the FPG, and I was happy to join one of their teams at this WCGC. The qualification stage was good for us but this Portuguese Final not so much. Anyway, it was a great day, in an exceptionally well-organized tournament and congratulations to everyone involved”, considered the FPG president.
All is well that ends well. Neither the winds at Montado scared the Garofalo team, nor the winds of change that brought us to the pandemic stopped Golftattoo Eventos.
However, its general manager, Pedro Castelo Branco, when closing the 2020 season, did not forget the pitfalls he had to overcome: “The final summary is undoubtedly positive. We are talking about an exceptional year. It was the first year that we had the responsibility to promote the event. But also because it was an atypical year. The cancellation of the tour was discussed due to the conjuncture. It can only be optimistic that we reached the end with great success, as we could see by the much higher participation than we expected in the two tournaments held after the quarantine “.
Pedro Castelo Branco is now sure that “this Garofalo duo will play well for Portugal in the World Final. We shall try to provide them with the best possible preparation. Then, it will be up to them, but they are two good players “.
Hugo Ribeiro / Golftattoo