Defending champions, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan are eyeing up a repeat winning performance when the pair combine again in green, though this time on Portuguese soil, at the GolfSixes in Cascais from June 7-8.
Team Ireland emerged victorious in the second edition of GolfSixes last year at the Centurion Golf Club when Dunne and Moynihan triumphed over the French pairing of Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Romain Wattel in a dramatic finale.
Ireland’s heroes – who played together in the victorious 2015 Walker Cup team – started quickly in the final, winning the first and third holes to forge an early 2-0 lead which the French were unable to pull back. It was a week where it all seemed to click for Dunne and Moynihan, who were three-under or better in every match through six holes at the tournament.
They dethroned the 2017 champions, Danish pair Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen and both Dunne and Moynihan are sure to have plenty of support on their mission as defending champions in a region frequented regularly by Irish golfing fanatics.
“I can’t wait to return to the GolfSixes alongside Gavin at a new venue this June”, said Dunne, who is relishing the opportunity to defend the title at Oitavoc Dunes in Cascais, close to Lisbon.
“Gavin and I had so much fun last year. It’s an event which the players can really enjoy as well as the fans. The atmosphere has always been incredible at GolfSixes and I am sure that will be the same in Cascais. Portugal is renowned for its golf courses so I am sure they will embrace the event.”
Bizarrely, both players actually dropped down the world rankings following last year’s win with no ranking points or Ryder Cup points on offer at the event. However, for Mount Juliet’s Moynihan, the €100,000 cheque he picked up for the timely result was ample reward and crucial to the Dubliner, who endured a testing rookie season to that point on the Main Tour.
“GolfSixes was probably the best week of last year and one of the best memories of my career so far,” reflected Moynihan.
“To represent my country alongside Paul was such an honour and to go on and win the event made it even more special.
“It will be really exciting to defend our title at a new venue and I have heard great things about the area of Cascais, so hopefully the Irish fans will come out in force to support us.”
The innovative event, in which teams compete over six holes in greensomes match play format, broke new ground last year when it introduced an all-female team and a mixed Captains team featuring 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn and 2019 Solheim Cup Captain Catriona Matthew.
This year, an exciting new era dawns for the GolfSixes when it moves to the Portuguese seaside resort of Cascais and Oitavos Dunes Golf Club for the third edition.
It will be the first time the tournament will be held outside of the United Kingdom, and it 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 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.
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 Ballymoney’s Michael Hoey respectively. Let’s hope Irish eyes will be smiling on the pristine Portuguese layout this year too.