Home Soil Triumph: 2023 Race to Obidos Culminates in Victory at the International Pairs World Final
The Journey to Obidos unfolded across the entire 2023 International Pairs Season, drawing golf enthusiasts from every corner of the world to participate in what promised to be a defining chapter in their amateur golfing odyssey. The prestigious World Final and Ryder Experience, held at Obidos in Portugal from 6-10 November 2023, marked a significant milestone in the International Pairs history.
This year’s World Final Championship unfolded on the grounds of Bom Sucesso Golf Resort, while the Ryder Experience battlegrounds were set at Royal Obidos Golf Resort. The sprawling landscapes and the challenging yet picturesque courses provided the participants with a taste of golfing excellence against the breath-taking backdrop of Obidos.
On Arrival Day in enchanting Obidos,
participants of the 2023 International Pairs World Final were warmly greeted with traditional Portuguese pasta and rice dishes, accompanied by refreshing drinks. The evening offered a relaxed atmosphere for mingling and settling in for the next four days. Adding to the local experience, participants indulged in the delightful taste of local Ginja, enhancing the warmth and camaraderie of the welcome.
The Opening Night not only marked the beginning of a prestigious golf tournament but also the start of an extraordinary journey where bonds would be forged, and shared memories created against the backdrop of the picturesque Obidos.
Day 2 – Mastering the Greens & a Night With Legends
As the sun dawned on Tuesday, participants eagerly took to the greens of the official 2023 World Final golf course, Guardian Bom Sucesso. Finalists had to navigate the challenging par 72 course, spanning over 6200 meters, with a wide array of risk and reward, culminating in two particularly demanding finishing holes. These challenging closing holes not only put even the best players to the test but will later serve as the defining moments, where strategic prowess and unwavering precision become the key elements in the quest to lift the coveted trophy.
Following the practice round, participants gathered for the 25-year-old traditional International Pairs flag ceremony, a poignant moment symbolizing national pride as each golfer proudly carried their country’s flag—a powerful realization of representing their nation on the global stage.
The Municipality of Obidos treated participants to the rich cultural entertainment synonymous with the town. Offering a delightful blend of traditional Obidos cuisine and captivating performances, attendees were treated to an immersive experience. The festivities included captivating attractions such as a live sword fight, and regal characters portraying a king and queen, adding a touch of royal flair to the cultural celebration.
During dinner, participants were treated to captivating stories and words of encouragement from the Ryder Experience Captains Manuel Pinero, Costantino Rocca, and Eddie Polland. This insightful session served as a prelude to the opening tournament round, setting the stage for a truly extraordinary golfing experience.
Day 3 – Tournament Round 1
With cameras capturing every swing, the anticipation to get their World Final journey underway was palpable as participants and finalists stepped onto the first tee, offering a glimpse into the pressures akin to a professional tour. The electric blend of excitement and nerves hung in the air, creating an atmosphere charged with the possibility of emerging as World Champions.
The pairing of Joel & Ignatius from Kenya raced to the lead on day 1, closely followed by Team Portugal and Team England, setting the stage for an exhilarating battle for supremacy. The intense competition heightened as these formidable teams vied for the top spot on the leaderboard, adding a layer of anticipation to the unfolding drama.
In the Women’s Division, Team Australia seized the lead on day 1, however, their journey to the top was closely trailed by the formidable pairing from South Africa and Italy, with all to play for in round 2.
Team Uganda set the tone on day 1 in the Mixed Pairs Division taking the lead by 2 points, but the field was closely compacted with teams from England, Australia, South Africa, and Egypt still well within reach of becoming the next Mixed Pairs Champions.
Day 4 – The Decisive Showdown
As the sun dawned on Day 4, anticipation and nerves filled the air, signalling the imminent crowning of the World Champions. In a carefully seeded draw, the leading teams took their positions at the back of the field, setting the stage for a gripping final battle.
The initial stages witnessed a surprising twist as the leading Kenyan team, Ignatius and Joel, faced early challenges, opening the door for the home team of João Oliveira + Nuno Azevedo Neves from Portugal. The English duo of Lee Beeson + Joseph Daubney, although in strong contention, couldn’t quite reach the mark set by their competitors.
A spectacular second-round performance from the Kenyan pairing of Anthony Korir + Sam Chepkwony propelled them to the top of the leaderboard, intensifying the race for victory. However, the battle was far from over, with the teams from Denmark and Portugal still holding cards in the game.
In a thrilling finish, the Danish pairing of Lars I. Clausen + Michael Niss Bertelsen secured a commendable third place in the Championship, with Kenya claiming the second spot. Yet, it was a triumphant tale on home soil as the Portuguese team of João and Nuno demonstrated exceptional skill and composure, delivering a stellar performance in the closing moments to clinch the prestigious 2023 World Final Championship title.
The Women’s division
mirrored the intensity of the competition. The trailing team of Nita Dalziel + Joy Vorster from South Africa endeavoured to close the gap on the leaders, Anna-Marie Cash-Tobin + Tracy Kelly from Australia. Both teams faced a challenging start, but as nerves settled, they engaged in a fierce battle for the top spot.
The competition escalated into a tooth-and-nail affair, with both teams exchanging blows throughout the round. The suspense reached its peak in the final few holes, and in a remarkable turn of events, the South African team emerged victorious, securing the championship by a mere 1-point margin.
The Mixed Pairs division
unfolded with suspense and unpredictability, as top teams faced challenges in accumulating points, creating an opportunity for the South African pairing of Simon Mottershead + Gina Woolley. The momentum swing saw the teams from Uganda and South Africa locked in a tie at the summit of the leaderboard after two intense rounds, setting the stage for a sudden-death playoff for the coveted Mixed Pairs championship title.
In a thrilling showdown down the 18th hole, the South African team exhibited remarkable resilience and skill, emerging victorious by a single point. Their journey from a disappointing start to claiming the 2023 Mixed Pairs Title showcased a truly remarkable comeback, solidifying their status as champions in a competition that demanded skill, strategy, and unwavering determination.
The 2023 Ryder Experience
unfolded as yet another unforgettable chapter for licensees and competitors alike. Over four exhilarating days, captains Manuel Pinero, Costantino Rocca, and Eddie Polland infused the tournament with the spirit of the Ryder Cup, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Our heartfelt congratulations go to Eddie Polland and his team for clinching the prestigious 2023 Ryder Experience Title.
The grand finale, the Gala Evening Prize Giving, set the stage for the coronation of new champions. The evening was adorned with a friendly dance presented by ‘Rancho Etnográfico da Capeleira,’ providing participants with a first-hand experience of the traditional culture Obidos holds dear. Amidst the rhythmic steps, the Mayor of Obidos took centre stage, crowning the 2023 World Final Champions in a moment of triumph and celebration.
A profound thank you extends to the Mayor and the Municipality for their warm hospitality and generous welcome. Their commitment ensured participants carried with them not just a trophy but also a cherished memory of Obidos, an invaluable treasure that will linger in their hearts for years to come.