On Monday Swedish golfer Caroline Hedwall won PowerPlay Golf driven by Saab: Ignition in dramatic fashion to claim the honour of becoming the first Tour pro in the world to win a PowerPlay Golf event.
After a late barrage of six-point PowerPlay birdies, Hedwall triumphed over a star studded field including golfing legend Gary Player, current US Open Champions Graeme McDowell and Paula Creamer, Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Paul Casey and Major Champions John Daly, Ian Woosnam and Helen Alfredsson.
Over nine selected holes on Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten Course, and in front of a large crowd, the early pace setters were American LPGA Tour star Creamer and young French European Tour rookie Victor Dubuisson. When Creamer failed to convert a last-hole PowerPlay birdie, attention turned to Hedwall, who amassed an incredible 18 points on the final three holes with three successive PowerPlay 6-point birdies, including a brave 15-foot putt on the final hole.
Hedwall’s compatriot Helen Alfredsson and world number 12 Ian Poulter – who almost eagled the last after driving the green – both came with a late charge, matching Hedwall’s last-hole PowerPlay birdie, but the young Swede prevailed to take the £100,000 first prize.
“That was a lot of fun. I was in the middle of the pack with three to play but knew I still had a chance with PowerPlays in reserve. I was very nervous on the first tee but playing with Ian Poulter and Helen Alfredsson was a great experience” commented Hedwall. The victory caps a memorable few days for Hedwall, who secured her first Ladies European Tour victory on Sunday at the Allianz Slovak Ladies Open.
“Caroline holed a mile of putts today and played stunning golf”, said 2011 World Matchplay Champion Ian Poulter afterwards, confirming that men and women can compete legitimately side by side in this exciting and volatile format. “I like to have fun on the golf course and the PowerPlay format means that you can get back into contention with some big plays towards the end,” he said.
Other Ignition competitors also enjoyed their first experience of the new format. Ryder Cup star Paul Casey said “The course was set up very well by PowerPlay Golf. It looks like the girls have given us a good beating today and made better decisions, so fair play to them. This was great fun.”
Gary Player loved the emphasis the format places on course management. “Amateur golfers don’t realise how important course management is. Jack and Tiger won Majors with excellent course management and a strong mental game. PowerPlay Golf is going to teach amateur golfers a great deal about when to take a risk and when to shoot for a par.”
And current U.S Open Champion Graeme McDowell Tweeted: “Got absolutely spanked by the girls today. Lots of fun and a great concept.”
The three-hour tournament was broadcast live to over 30 countries, ensuring that PowerPlay Golf’s new nine-hole format reached a broad audience of golf fans and sports enthusiasts. Saab GB Marketing Director David Pugh said: “It was a fantastic debut event and we look forward to working with PowerPlay Golf to develop this exciting new form of the sport. Our congratulations go to Sweden’s new star Caroline Hedwall for her impressive victory!”
The event raised £158,000 for charity and in donations to golf unions. Organisers PowerPlay Golf donated £65,000 to charity, giving an additional 10% of each player’s winnings to their chosen charity, and a further £10,000 to each of three charities: The British Lung Foundation, Help For Heroes, and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, the latter nominated as one of PowerPlay Golf’s event charities by Sir Ian Botham.
Four of the competitors donated a combined total of £93,000 to their national golf unions, in recognition of the support they received during their amateur careers. Paul Casey donated £20,000 to The English Golf Union, and Hedwall, Dubuisson and Kieffer each donated 50% of their winnings to the Swedish, French and German Golf Federations respectively.
Working together with international sports marketing giants IMG, PowerPlay Golf will now take its Tour pro series to two further continents – Asia and North America – later in 2011. Both events will once again feature an eclectic twelve-person field of male and female Tour stars of all ages.
Multi-sports group Convers Sports Initiatives, which acquired a controlling interest in PowerPlay Golf in November 2010, believes the televised events will act as a catalyst for the format’s roll-out throughout the global amateur game.
Chairman Vladimir Antonov said “We are creating a network of PowerPlay Golf Official Venues so that amateur golfers all over the world can play the game. Superstars such as those who played at The Celtic Manor Resort on Monday are superb role models and set the example of how exciting PowerPlay Golf can be.”
With planned collaborations with the National Golf Federations and Governing bodies around the world and with over 70% of golfers in a recent survey stating that they would watch and play a shorter format of the game, PowerPlay Golf looks set to become an invigorating force in golf. “We have made a great start but this tournament is only the beginning. We want to drive participation in all golfing countries and bring much needed extra revenue into golf clubs.” stated Executive Director Peter McEvoy OBE.
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