2011: Loch Lomond, Scotland (Carrick course)
SOUTH AFRICANS CAN BE PROUD AS IRELAND CROWNED INTERNATIONAL PAIRS WORLD CHAMPIONS
Click here for Full Results
It had to happen one of these years and oh boy, it certainly happened this year!! Since 2005 the weather has not had any significant impact on the International Pairs golf tournament World Finals; with one small exception in 2007 at St Andrews Bay when the second round was disrupted by a thunder storm. This year, however, it seemed that Mother Nature had decided to present a serious meteorological challenge to the golfers and it was tough – so very tough! This was without doubt the most difficult World Finals by a long way and when the players ventured out for the practice round it was cold, windy, rainy conditions that they faced on the Carrick course at Loch Lomond.
The golf course is a challenging layout that undulates its way up from the shore of the Loch into the hills and then wends its way back down to the links-like finishing holes and when completely dry it is not a simple stroll so with fairways sodden it was a hard walk. The South Africans all had a real practice round in that they not only got to know the course but also familiarised themselves with playing in layers of clothing whilst managing umbrellas and keeping clubs and gloves dry – and spirits high! Well if the competitors thought the practice round had been tough, then they would have a rude awakening on the first competition day when dawn broke grey, cold and rainy – with snow on the nearby Ben Lomond Mountain. In true South African spirit, however, the three pairs attacked the challenge before them with varying degrees of success.
As the round progressed so the conditions worsened until the Tournament Director took the decision to reduce the first round to 9 holes. This was absolutely the right decision considering that the last 5 holes were effectively unplayable and the players with late tee times would most certainly have been disadvantaged.
Day two dawned colder but with a glimpse of blue above and although the course was still sodden, it was fully playable thanks to the remarkable efforts of the green keeping staff who had been working since 4:00am. The rain did fall during the day and the wind did blow and the chill factor remained but with the World Championship title up for grabs, the teams persisted.
Melville Muir and Willie Stokes can be exceptionally proud of their 3rd place, which is the highest ever finishing position by a South African pair on the World Final leader board with the previous best having been 4th on three occasions. All three South African teams can be extremely proud of their performances and the way in which they represented all South African amateur club golfers!
In the end it was All-Ireland Gaelic football players Mick Galvin and Jason Sherlock who, having turned their hands to another sport, conquered the fairways in Scotland and claimed a dramatic victory at the 2011 International Pairs World Final. Galvin and Sherlock held their nerve under intense pressure to beat the Chilean pair of Gabriel Morgan Searle and Rodrigo San Martin Ribera at the second hole of a sudden death play-off and in doing so they became the first Irish players in the tournament’s history to be crowned world champions. It was a close run thing as Searle and Ribera pushed them all the way after both teams had finished with 53 Stableford points after 27 holes and having halved the first hole of sudden death in par-fours, Galvin and Sherlock looked to be in pole position to close out victory as they played The Carrick’s 407-yard 18th hole for a second time. With their opponents in trouble off the tee, Galvin, who is now manager of St Oliver Plunketts Gaelic football team with Sherlock one of his players, found the green in two but then proceeded to three-putt from 25 feet and their win was only confirmed when Searle’s three-foot putt for a bogey lipped out.
“That is the most nervous I have ever been on a golf course,” said 11-handicapper Sherlock, who also played for Shamrock Rovers and the Republic of Ireland’s under-21 football side.
“I have played in a lot of big sporting occasions but I preferred playing in front of 80,000 people at Croke Park than going through that.”
Galvin, who plays off six, added: “Jason and I have known each other for years and we played very well in the second round. We knew if we beat the Scottish guys we would stand a chance but the Chileans played some great golf and it was a bit of a struggle to finish things off at the end. It’s a humbling experience to play for your country on a world stage and it doesn’t get any bigger than this. It’s a great event and we have met some wonderful people from all over the world. We can’t celebrate too much, though, as we have a game at the weekend!”
2010 - CANADIANS CLAIM PAIRS WORLD TITLE WITH LAST-GASP BIRDIE
Canadians Dave Williscraft and Brett Wall conjured up a spectacular final-hole finish to overhaul France and win the 2010 International Pairs World Final at The Carrick on Loch Lomond.
French duo Pascal Pietrois and Thomas Gotfryd missed out on the 2010 International Pairs world title in agonising fashion as they were forced to settle for the runners-up spot at The Carrick on Loch Lomond. Williscraft and Wall trailed their French playing partners Pascal Pietrois and Thomas Gotfryd by one point in the 36-hole event as they stood on the tee of the 407-yard 18th hole at The Carrick, the flagship venue of De Vere’s 11 golfing destinations in the UK.
Pietrois, who plays off ten, and two-handicapper Gotfryd stood in pole position at the halfway stage of the 36-hole event in Scotland - the world’s largest competition of its kind for club golfers - after shooting six birdies on their way to 44 Stableford points in their first round, one clear of Canadians Dave Williscraft and Brett Wall.
Vietnam’s Loc Ha Ngoc Hoang and Tu Le Ngoc lay third with 40 points, two clear of the second Canadian pair of Mike Knight and Brent Ashlee with Wall and Green, from Middlesbrough Golf Club, a point further back.
But, as their nearest challengers dropped back, it soon became a two-horse race with the lead changing hands several times before the Canadians’ fantastic finish. The French pair, who play at Montereau La Forteresse near Fontainebleu, Paris, were still one point ahead of their playing partners as they stood on the tee of the 4-7-yard 18th hole.
But, while Pietrois and Gotfryd failed to find the green in regulation, both Canadians had birdie putts with Wall sealing victory in sensational fashion as he rolled in his birdie from six feet for a winning two-round total of 80 Stableford points - one more than the French with England’s Chris Wall and Mark Green back in third on 72 points.
Gotfryd, said: “We are disappointed not to win but we would like to congratulate the Canadian team who played very well. We have had a lot of fun and have met some wonderful people.”
The victory for Williscraft and Wall capped a memorable week for the duo, members at Caradoc Sands Golf Club in Strathroy, Ontario, who had already played golf at Open Championship venues Royal Troon, Muirfield and Carnoustie prior to arriving at The Carrick.
Wall, who plays off 12, said: “It doesn’t get any better than this. That is the best moment I have ever experienced on the golf course.
“It was very tight between us and the French guys the whole way round and they played some great golf. I really feel for them but we dug deep and I somehow managed to produce something special on the 18th.
“That is the biggest pressure I have ever felt on the course but I loved every minute. The competition is world class.”
Wall and Williscraft’s victory means that Canada will be looking to complete a historic hat-trick of titles in 2011 as they followed in the footsteps of 2009 International Pairs world champions Marilyne Cadieux and Saby Dagenais.
Chris Wall and Mark Green from Middlesbrough Golf Club completed a unique hat-trick after producing highly-creditable finish to come third. Wall and Green, who both play off 11, headed to Scotland having finished third at their regional qualifying event and in the same position at last month’s International Pairs UK Final at Wychwood Park.
And three was their lucky number again as the duo overcame difficult windy conditions on the second day of the 36-hole event to surge through the field and claim third spot. Wall said: “Three seems to be a popular number for us but we’re delighted with how we finished.
“It was always going to be difficult to overtake the front two pairs and the golf course was playing very long on the second day, but we’ve had a fantastic time and playing in the competition has been a wonderful experience.”
Competitors were welcomed at the venue’s spectacular hotel Cameron House by the Provost of Argyll and But, Councillor Willie Petrie who was also on hand to formally close proceedings.
Cllr Petrie said: “It has been a privilege for our region to host such a wonderful competition and so many people from all around the world, and we look forward to welcoming everybody back very soon.”
Ross Honey, founder of International Pairs, added: “Every year, the world final is better than the last and we have raised the bar to a new level in 2010. The Carrick on Loch Lomond provided an amazing location for some sensational golf, we have been treated to some of the best hospitality anywhere in Scotland and Dave and Brett are worthy champions. Many new friendships have been forged during the course of the last few days and we look forward to these being expanded over the coming months and years.”
World Final 2009: Carnoustie, Scotland
The 2009 World Final took place between the 11th and 13th October 2009 in Carnoustie, Scotland. A superb opportunity lay before the four South African representatives as they travelled to Carnoustie in Scotland for the 2009 International Pairs World Final. The event took place over the Monifeith Links – an Open Championship Qualifying venue – and the well-known Carnoustie Championship lauout.
Two days of practice were followed by 35 holes of competitive golf with a round on each of Monifeith and Carnoustie counting toward the leaderboard and eventual International Pairs World Champions. The Monifeith Links is a delightful and challenging layout and the players thoroughly enjoyed the experience – even though their scoring did not reflect their abilities
Some of the holes of the original James Braid designed Carnoustie Links were reckoned too weak for competitive play and the notorious "sting in the tail" final three holes were introduced to compensate. Now deemed the "toughest links course in the world", Carnoustie is a significant challenge even on a mild day. The 6th, Hogan’s Alley, is particularly well known as one of the world’s great par fives.
On both days the weather was pretty mild which was a pleasure for all concerned although the two South African pairs would have preferred more wind. With all four being experienced wind players from the coast, it would have been advantageous for them but it was not to be. Despite all their best efforts, the trophy was not destined for South Africa and in fact history was created in 2009 with a lady pair winning.
Canadian teenagers Marilyne Cadieux and Saby Dagenais scored a victory for lady golfers all over the world by becoming the first ever women to win the International Pairs World Final 2009 at Carnoustie. Marilyne, 19, and Saby, 18, claimed their own special place in the global competition’s history by beating 27 other teams - including 25 all-male partnerships - to be crowned world champions in the 36-hole event. The Canadian champions’ near flawless performance of 40 points in the final round over Carnoustie’s feared Championship Course clinched victory with Saby sealing a memorable win with a birdie on the 18th hole.
Our pairs did their best but it wasn’t to be in 2009 – perhaps 2010 will be South Africa’s year!
SA Results of the 2009 International Pairs World Final
The Cragg brothers finished in 17th place with the Devonvale pair of Luciano Arnolds and Michael le Roux completing the World Finals in 25th place.
Marilyne Cadieux and Saby Dagenais of Canada were followed by Manfred van der Wall and Rob Bosman of The Netherlands
World Final 2008: St Andrews, Scotland
The 2008 World Final took place between the 21st and 23rd September 2008 on the Dukes course of the St Andrews Links in St Adndrews, Scotland.
Oftentimes it is the low handicap golfers who are selected to represent their golf club, region and country but with OMIPSA all club handicap golfers can compete for this right and in 2008 Dr. Carel Swarts, a 16 handicap, and his son Jacques off an 11 from Bosch Hoek GC in KZN represented South Africa at the World Finals. They were joined by James Heuer and Dave Evatt of Silver Lakes who played off a 4 and 9 respectively.
Both pairs represented all South African golfers extremely well through their conduct both on and off the course for which we would like to thank them; and many friends were made. Whilst James and Dave did not fair particularly well on the course and finished in the bottom half of the field, the Swarts’ from Bosch Hoek did partucularly well by finishing eighth out of 34 teams. They were later elevated to 7th place as a result of a disqualification.
One of the most important things about the tournament is the integrity of all those who play in it and this was ensured when the winners of the World Finals were stripped of their title having been found to have breached the competition’s rules.
Organisers of the global event took the decision to disqualify English pair Deen Graves and Martyn Ashcroft after discovering they had qualified ineligibly for the tournament and Ashcroft was not a member of the club he claimed.
Kevin Barker, assistant director of rules for The R & A, said: "I can confirm that based on the above, the side should be disqualified even though International Pairs has posted the results of the competition.
"The side was ineligible i.e. an actual and proper qualifying competition was not held and also Ashcroft was not a member of the club at the time either.
"There is no time limit on imposing a disqualification where a side was ineligible as it has not met the entry conditions."
Scottish duo John Maxwell and Stephen Brown, who both play off four and are from Falkirk, were elevated to first place and crowned the new 2008 champions as a result.
In South Africa we will continue to work with the SA Golf Association, the golf clubs and handicapping authorities to ensure as far as is humanly possible that the integrity of the tournament is maintained and that the small number of cheats are prevented from bringing this wonderful game into disrepute.
Results of the 2008 International Pairs World Final
Carel and Jacues Swarts finished in a very credible 7th place with James Heuer and Dave Evatt having a less successful couple of days over the Duke’s Course, St, Andrews with a 25th place finish.
The champions, John Maxwell and Stephen Brown of Scotland were followed by Matt Twomey and Jerry Kearney of Ireland with Manfred and Tim van der Wal of Belgium in third place.
World Final 2007: St Andrews Bay, Scotland
In a thrilling finale to the event Shaun Smith and Simon Deaves from Scarborough South Cliff Golf Club fought off a strong challenge from the Auld enemy to claim a dramatic victory at the Home of Golf and win the 2007 International Pairs World Final.
Smith and Deaves, , beat the Scotland's Richard Oliver and Justin Aitchison at the second play-off hole in the three-way play-off, which also featured Ireland, to be crowned world champions at Fairmont St Andrews.
Smith, who plays off a handicap of one and held his nerve to sink a three-foot putt in extra time to finally defeat their rivals from Eyemouth, said: "It's an amazing feeling and doesn't get much better than this," said Smith,.
Five-handicapper Deaves added: "Winning is everything. We came here to have fun but also to win and that's what we've done; but I feel sorry for the Scottish guys. They played some great golf and had their chances to win as well."
The Irish were eliminated at the first hurdle in extra time when they failed to par the final hole again and Smith and Deaves were crowned the fourth International Pairs world champions when the Scots suffered a similar fate 20 minutes later.
Competitors from 22 countries including China, South Africa, Nigeria, Thailand and Iceland gathered at Fairmont from July 1-4 to take part in the 36-hole competition's fourth world final - which is backed by Visit Scotland.
Ross Honey, founder and managing director of International Pairs Worldwide, said: "This was the most exciting final we've had in the competition's history and the English were worthy winners.
"It was a tremendous climax to a tournament that continues to grow and grow with the likes of China, Nigeria and Thailand taking part for the first time.
"Many friendships have been made during the course of the event and it was fitting that we should have such a truly unforgettable final at Fairmont St Andrews, which has been the spiritual home of the International Pairs since we first held the UK final there in 2003."
International Pairs has been backed by Visit Scotland for the last five years - and the national Scottish tourist body has committed to be the tournament's main sponsor until at least next year.
Results of the 2007 International Pairs World Final
South Africa’s two pairs finished in joint 4th place. Larry Bredenkamp and John van Kan (Glendower) and Mike Carr and Budgie Shearer (Easterns Nomads) all put up a great fight in some challenging circumstances to finish near the top of the leaderboard.
There was a three-way play off with Ireland going out on the first extra hole and England eventually defeating Scotland after a further three holes.
World Final 2006: Celtic Manor: Ryder Cup 2010 Venue
The third annual International Pairs World Final took place for the second year running at the world famous Celtic Manor resort in Wales from 9th to 11th August 2006. Twenty four pairs from 15 different countries participated in the 36 hole final over the Roman Road course.
As in 2005, it was a country making it's debut in the competition that walked off with the Honey Cup - The Phiippines.
Having put together a simply stunning round in day one to be sitting on 46 points and a 3 shot lead at the halfway stage, Felix Cortes and Gary Sales were always going to be very hard to catch as long as they could handle the pressure of playing in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
In fact their 40 point haul on day 2 was only bettered by Patrick Ryan and James Keane from Ireland who shot 42 points for a total of 82 points and 3rd place.
The French mixed pair of Robert Foort and Celine Mex who were 2nd overnight matched the Filipino pair shot for shot during day 2, but could not eat into the 3 shot advantage - Finishing with 40 points for the day and 83 points for a creditable 2nd place.
Results of the 2006 International Pairs World Final
South Africa’s two pairs of Reghard Neethling and Adam Hayes (Cullinan GC) and Faan Fourie and Dolf Kotze (Bloemfontein GC) finished in 8th and 10th place.
The winners were Felix Cortez and Gary Sales from the Philippines
World Final 2005: Celtic Manor: Ryder Cup 2010 Venue
Although still in Wales, 2005 saw a change of venue for the International Pairs World Final - moving just down the road in fact to the Celtic Manor resort.
The event consisted of two rounds on the Wentwood Hills course and involved 34 pairs from 25 different countries from the 7th to the 8th of June 2005 - at the end of which Pablo Hernandez and Julio Garcia Salas from Colombia raised the trophy aloft in celebration.
Pablo and Julio held a slender lead at the end of day one which they finished on 41 points, just one point ahead of the English champions Robbie Turner and Ian Ritchie and the Icelandic pair of Svanpor Laxdal and Jonas Gunnarsson.
Despite scoring 41 points themselves on the second day, Robbie and Ian from Wychwood Park Golf Club in Cheshire simply could not make up the difference on the mercurial Colombians who shot an incredible 44 points to claim the tournament by 4 clear points.
Svanpor and Jonas managed a creditable 37 points on day two but despite that slipped back to finish in 6th place - being overtaken by pairs from Scotland, South Africa and Mexico. Gary Tough and Ian Thomson from Edzell in Scotland finished very strongly to claim 3rd place outright with a total of 80 points - 2 clear of the South African pairing of Paul Adams and Wayne Nel - although Paul did claim to the first hole-in-one in International Pairs World Final history!
Despite only having two golf courses in the entire country, Israel produced the highest placed mixed pair with Cyril and Norma Kaufman finishing on 75 points to claim 7th place, just ahead of Janice Kerr and Julian Bates from England in 8th and John Munro and Jackie Brown from Scotland in 11th.
Results of the 2005 International Pairs World Final
South Africa participated in the 2005 World Finals under sponsors invitation and the representative pair of Paul Adams and Wayne Nel finished in 4th place.
The winners were Pablo Hernandez and Julio Garcia Salas from Columbia
World Final 2004: Marriott St Pierre in Wales
The reigning English men's champions, Mark Phillips and Darren Bradford, were crowned inaugural International Pairs world champions at the Marriott St Pierre in Wales in August 2004. Phillips, 29, and Bradford, 28, from Deangate Ridge GC, Rochester, in Kent, beat off the challenge of 23 other pairings to win the Ross Honey Cup and to send themselves into dreamland.
"It's an amazing experience anyway. But winning it hasn't really sunk in yet," explained Mark, a four handicapper, who sunk the winning putt.
"I had an idea we might be ahead when we went on to the 18th. The cameras had been with us for a few holes and they obviously knew something.
"So we knew we were there or thereabouts, but I couldn't be sure my putt had won it for us until we came off the green."
Like his playing partner, Darren was overwhelmed by their success.
"It's your proverbial 15 minutes of fame," smiled Darren, a plant operator, who plays off 11.
"And how can you explain that to somebody who is yet to experience it. It's great to be part of it, because we're all here for one reason: to play golf. But to win it is just wonderful.
"The cameras being around is very intimidating first time, for an everyday hacker like me, for want of a better description. But you soon get to forget the cameras and the spectators and get used to it. We were UK champions last year so we had some experience of it then."
At the turn, all eyes were on the pairings from Wales and Belgium who had a total of 40 points for the first half of the second day of competition. But the men from Kent called upon all their experience of last year’s domestic final at St Andrews Bay to clinch the title in the closest International Pairs competition ever.
One point separated the first four teams in an event that was reduced to 27 holes after part of the first day was wiped out by a torrential downpour and thunderstorm at the Chepstow course.
Mark added: "We've met some really great people playing in the International Pairs over the last couple of years. It's a really good social atmosphere.
Darren added: "When you spend four or five hours playing golf in the company of somebody you get to know them reasonably well. And most of the people we’ve played with in the last year I would say I could still recognise them as a friend in 10 years' time. That’s how great a social competition it is. You've all got something in common: you all love golf.
"Yet here we get the chance, at least in some small way, to feel what it would be like to be a Tour pro, walking down narrow banner-lined fairways with spectators and cameras. It's a great all-round experience."
South Africa did not participate in the 2004 World Finals.
The winners were Mark Phillips and Darren Bradford from England