The European Tour’s innovative GolfSixes event will enter a new era in 2019 when it moves to continental Europe for the first time, with the Municipality of Cascais and the spectacular Oitavos Dunes in Portugal 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 which has captured the imagination of the golfing world with its unique format, following two hugely successful editions at the Centurion Club in St Albans, England.
It will be the first time the tournament will be held outside of the United Kingdom and is being 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.
Ireland emerged as GolfSixes champions last year 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, who 16 months later put his match-play experience to good use as part of Thomas Bjørn’s triumphant European team at The 2018 Ryder Cup.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour, 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.”
Dirk Glittenberg, Chief Executive Officer of U.COM, 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 and we are very grateful for the support and faith that the Municipality of Cascais have shown in this concept.”
Miguel Montez Champalimaud, General Manager of the Oitavos Dunes, said: “We are incredibly enthusiastic about having this pioneer event at our venue and feel we have the perfect elements in both Oitavos Dunes golf and The Oitavos hotel to make it an all-round success for players and all the stakeholders.”
Ricardo Gouveia, Portuguese European Tour player, 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.”
Carlos Carreiras, Mayor of Cascais, said: “This is a perfect match for Cascais – a world class destination for a world class event. 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 – 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% of participants have been girls. The GolfSixes concept has also been rolled out in Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands.
Frank Kirsten, CEO of PGA Holland and chairman of the PGAs of Europe, said: “The PGA Holland Golf Sixes has been a great success and continues to grow in 2019. We play a team event between teams of six youth players up to the age of 13, and this is exactly what our sport in Holland needs to attract more youth but also parents to our golf facilities. We are very grateful to the European Tour for making this wonderful and innovative competition possible in our country.”
Nick Pink, Chief Executive of England Golf, 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 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 Pablo Martin Benavides, Grégory Bourdy and Michael Hoey respectively.
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Pictured top: 2018 GolfSixes winners Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan (Team Ireland) (Getty images)