Greek destination Costa Navarino, recently awarded the ‘World’s Best Emerging Golf Destination’ accolade at the World Golf Awards, brought its season to a close with the inaugural Olazábal & Friends Pro-Am held from November 24-27.
Amateurs from all over the world converged on Greece’s south coast to tee it up alongside a star-studded line-up that included former Ryder Cup heroes Miguel Ángel Jiménez and Philip Price, 2021 Senior Open Champion Stephen Dodd, and European Tour winners Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, Santiago Luna and José Manuel Lara from Spain, Emanuele Canonica from Italy and France’s Christian Cevaer, and of course, the two-time Masters champion himself.
Amateurs had the exclusive opportunity to join Olazábal and his professional friends in an up-close and intimate experience, playing at Costa Navarino’s two new courses at Navarino Hills, which were designed by him and opened last February.
Featuring 14 teams – with each team comprising one professional and three amateurs – the 36-hole event (and an additional practice round) saw the teams take on the International Olympic Academy Golf Course – voted the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the 2022 World Golf Awards – and The Hills Course, both of which were designed by the legendary Spaniard whose Ryder Cup partnership with Seve Ballesteros remains one of sport’s most iconic double acts.
José Manuel Lara took the individual professional honours with a 36-hole total of four-under-par., ahead of Portugal’s Ricardo Santos and Lorenzo Gagli from Italy, while Olazábal’s side edged out Jiménez’s in the team head-to-head event with an impressive tally of -59.
“Our goal was to raise money for children in need and at the same time offer our guests a great time,” Olazábal said afterwards. “I am so happy we achieved that and I would like to thank the Costa Navarino team and also my dear friend Miguel Ángel Jiménez and our fellow pros for helping us deliver a successful premiere. We cant wait to return again in 2023. Thank you all for your generosity.“
Jiménez, with 34 worldwide professional tour victories to his name, was delighted to have been invited. “When José María calls, you know it is going to be something special,” the colourful Spaniard reflected. “It truly was – a spectacular region, great golf courses, amazing guests, perfect organisation and all this for a good cause. Congratulations to all involved. My wife, Susanne, and I loved our time here and we already look forward to coming back to Costa Navarino.“
Social events including two dinners, a prize-giving lunch and post-event party and a golf clinic with Jiménez were also part of the event, with all proceeds being donated to Sport Mundi (www.sportmundi.es), the Spanish non-profit organisation chaired by José María Olazábal, which supports children in need.
In addition, the tournament supported the “Clean Messinia” initiative, led by the Captain Vassilis & Carmen Constantakopoulos Foundation and Costa Navarino, which aims to support and engage the local communities in a more sustainable way of waste management.
On some of the most unspoiled and breath-taking seaside Mediterranean landscape, Costa Navarino has been shaped by 4,500 years of history. Driven by a genuine desire to promote the Messinia region, while protecting and preserving its natural beauty and heritage, environmental sustainability is at the core of Costa Navarino’s developmental philosophy.
Comprising five separate five-star deluxe hotels, luxury private residences, and a total of four signature golf courses, Costa Navarino is fast becoming one of the South Mediterranean’s must-visit locations.
Navarino Dunes, the first development in the region, is home to The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort, and The Westin Resort Costa Navarino, as well as to Costa Navarino Residences. Navarino Bay is set to welcome the Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino in 2023, while at the nearby Navarino Waterfront site, the upscale, vibrant W Costa Navarino is open as of August 2022.
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