European Disabled Golfers Association golfers George Groves and Brendan Lawlor will join forces in a European Tour first when they tee it up at the innovative GolfSixes Cascais, which returns to Oitavos Dunes Golf Club from May 9-10.
Continuing the European Tour’s commitment to inclusivity and innovation with its ground-breaking approach to Golfers with Disability, Groves and Lawlor will be paired together in the competitive match play format to form the inaugural ‘EDGA Team’, as one of four exciting wildcard selections on offer.
It also marks the first time golfers from the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability (WR4GD) will compete alongside European Tour professionals in a regular season event. The 2020 GolfSixes Cascais will follow the same format as the 2019 edition, 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.
Dundalk’s Lawlor, currently number four in the World Rankings for Golfers with Disability, said: “Last year I watched the GolfSixes tournament and now I have the opportunity to represent all golfers with a disability in Cascais, which is absolutely amazing! It will be great to stand on the tee with George and compete alongside the Tour professionals, men and women, knowing that we are showcasing how inclusive our game is for everyone.”
Groves, the current World Rankings for Golfers with Disability Number One, won the inaugural EDGA Dubai finale in November last year. The 36-hole event took place alongside the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai and was the second EDGA event taking place in conjunction with a Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
The Englishman finished second to Lawlor at the EDGA Scottish Open held during the weekend of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in July, and now the pair will partner together in Portugal as they prepare to take on 15 other teams competing over six holes in the greensomes format.
“I’m looking forward to competing in the European Tour’s GolfSixes in Cascais,” said Groves. “To be able to tee it up and play against the Tour professionals is exactly what inclusivity is all about. I’m excited to represent all players with a disability alongside Brendan and we hope to do them proud.”
GolfSixes has revolutionised the game with the ability to offer wildcard selections to a variety of golfers from all walks of the game. Previously the event included a ‘Captains Team’ which featured 2018 European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and 2019 Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew, who were the first male and female professionals to play together in a competitive match play format.
It has also hosted a ‘European Women’s Team’ featuring England’s Mel Reid and Carlota Ciganda of Spain, a ‘German Women’s Team’ of Esther Henseleit and Laura Fuenfstueck, and twice included an ‘England Women’s Team’ comprising of Georgia Hall and Charley Hull in 2018, as well as Meghan MacLaren and Florentyna Parker in 2019.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “GolfSixes is the perfect opportunity for us to champion new ideas and innovate, not just in terms of a different format, but to bring a different form of entertainment from a golf perspective.
“We are thrilled to have George and Brendan competing against European Tour professionals for the first time and to ultimately showcase their talents on the world stage. As golf’s global Tour, two of our core values are innovation and inclusivity, and GolfSixes fits perfectly into both of those genres.
“The EDGA Scottish Open and the EDGA Dubai Finale were an immense success for all involved and it is fantastic we can reward our inaugural winners in George and Brendan with the opportunity to compete at GolfSixes in Portugal. It’s a natural progression and I think the potential for GolfSixes in terms of the overall brand and format is terrific.”
Lawlor turned professional last year, however with Groves remaining an amateur he is unable to claim winnings from the tournament. The European Tour and the players have agreed to donate the team’s prize money from the event to EDGA and have sought and received approval from The R&A to do so under the Rules of Amateur Status, to help encourage more people with disability to try golf.
EDGA President Tony Bennett, added: “We are thrilled to have George and Brendan representing the inaugural EDGA Team at GolfSixes Cascais this May. It is a natural fit for this event to highlight golfers with a disability considering how inclusive and innovative the previous tournaments have been and we are excited about the possibilities ahead.
“It is an incredible opportunity for our EDGA golfers to compete alongside European Tour professionals for the first time and we can’t wait to see the rest of the field take shape in the coming weeks.”
Thailand defeated England in a nearest the pin play-off to win the 2019 GolfSixes Cascais and make European Tour history at Oitavos Dunes. Phachara Khongwatmai and Thongchai Jaidee were tied at 1-1 after six holes in the final against Tom Lewis and Paul Waring, with another trip up the sixth unable to separate the teams.
That meant the event would go down to nearest the pin in the final for the first time in its three year history, and it was Khongwatmai – 29 years his team-mate’s junior at just 20 years old – who hit his tee shot to concession range out to claim the win.
The tournament returns to Portugal for the second year next door to the Atlantic and only 20 minutes from the capital, Cascais – a 97.4 square kilometres village with approximately 210,000 inhabitants. The city is proud to host GolfSixes, a partnership of the Municipality of Cascais, the European Tour and the Event/Media agency U.COM – which stages the annual Millennium Estoril Open, an ATP Tennis Championship, in the same region.
Oitavos Dunes 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.