The Madeira Islands Open - Portugal returns to Santo da Serra Golf this season for the first time since 2008.
In the intervening three years, Porto Santo Golfe on the tiny neighbouring island of Porto Santo hosted the tournament, which was won last year by Northern Irishman Michael Hoey.
Santo da Serra, designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr in 1991, was the venue for the Madeira Islands Open for 12 seasons, from 1997 to 2008, having taken over from Campo de Golfe de Madeira, which hosted the first four editions beginning in 1993.
Like Porto Santo Golfe, Santo da Serra boasts stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, with sheer rocky drops from the course to the sea, steep, undulating fairways and demanding greens. Lined with pine mimosa, eucalyptus trees and exotic flowers, it is one of the most spectacular courses on the European Tour International Schedule.
The par three fourth is arguably the signature hole at Santo da Serra, with its ravine at the front and a sheer drop down the mountain to the sea at the back of a very narrow green. The professionals have described this as the hardest hole on the front nine, and Swede Niclas Fasth, the champion in 2000, said a par feels like a birdie, because it is a hole where you can easily rack up a double bogey or worse.
The par five third is also a magnificent test, where you must drive along the ravine and the second shot presents a choice of either playing safe along a similar line to the drive, or attempting to go for the green directly across the ravine.
Englishman James Morrison and Argentine Estanislao Goya were the other victors at Porto Santo in 2010 and 2009 respectively, while Scotsman Alastair Forsyth was the last player to win at Santo da Serra, in 2008.
Other notable names on the list of past champions include Holland’s Robert-Jan Derksen in 2005, Ryder Cup player Jean Van de Velde in 2006 and Welshman Bradely Dredge in 2003.
A round of 59 was recorded at Santo da Serra in December last year – Nuno Henriques carding 13 birdies and five pars.
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