Our press officer at Porto Santo Golfe gives you a glimpse of the action behind the scenes at the Madeira Islands Open – BPI Portugal...
The Madeira Islands Open-BPI Portugal is happening on the tiny island of Porto Santo, a few miles off the coast of Madeira, and getting here earlier in the week was not the most straightforward of journeys. Our trip over from Gatwick, changing at Funchal, wasn’t so bad, although the three hour wait for an 11-minute flight over to Porto Santo was a little frustrating given that we could see the island from the airport - someone even suggested swimming. Our weatherman came from the United States and was travelling for 27 hours before he touched down on Porto Santo, and the tiny aeroplane that jetted us across from Madeira struggled with the volume of luggage – all those golf bags! Two members of our scoreboard team were alerted to this fact when they saw their suitcases being taken off the plane as it waited to take off. Never a welcome sight. The plane had to make another, unscheduled flight later that evening just to bring over all the extra bags it had been unable to fit on earlier in the day and eventually everyone was reunited with their luggage.
The hotel this week is great as it has a great choice of sporting activities, giving the staff and players something to do each evening. Tuesday night was five-a-side football, and the standard on show was not dissimilar to that offered by Barcelona and Arsenal at the Nou Camp later that night. Occasionally someone had to climb up and over the fence to get the ball that someone had hoofed out of the enclosed pitch, but on the whole there was some pretty silky stuff being played. Not surprising, I suppose, when many of the players are professional sportsmen, but the ones who really shone were the French guys – Francois Calmels in particular. Jamie Elson also stood out – more for his bright pink trainers than anything else though. The Porto Santo European Tour Tennis Championship will take place over the weekend so watch this space.
A risky shot
Hitting a ball out of bounds is never great for a golfer, but the phrase takes on new meaning on the back nine at Porto Santo Golfe. To the right of the 13th green is a sheer drop off the cliff several hundred feet down to the sea, and to reach the 14th green you have to hit over the cliffs to the edge the other side. It makes for some spectacular scenery but I wouldn’t fancy having to get to close to the precipice to hit a shot. It also provides a stern hazard for buggy drivers, particularly if you put it in reverse by accident and almost go over the edge like one member of staff nearly did on Wednesday!
Baby Bell unfazed by debut
Eighteen year old Jonathan Bell is making his European Tour debut this week, having secured an invite after winning the Faldo Series European Grand Final late last year. He's been rumoured on the golf circuit to be quite a player, and he's certainly not short of confidence. When asked whether he was nervous about playing this week, he replied: "Nervous? No not at all. I reckon the person who's most nervous this week is Tiger Woods, because he's having to tee off at the Masters having been out of the game for so long."
On me 'ead son
James Morrison's caddie will have been pleased with the day's work on Thursday, a 65 putting his player into the lead, but he will not have been too happy to be hit on the head with a golf ball at the end of the round. Morrison picked his ball up from the ninth green after marking it, looked up and threw it to his caddie, Seb, to clean. Seb was not looking, though, and got a nasty shock when the ball clonked him straight on the head. Luckily he saw the funny side, and Morrison recovered from laughing to sink the simple putt for par.
Clark sweeps up
There was a buzz about Porto Santo Golfe on Saturday ahead of a bumper day of sport. Not only did we have a great tussle going on between James Morrison and George Murray at the top of the leaderboard, we had the Grand National, the FA Cup semi-final, El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, not to mention the Masters at Augusta. The media centre organised a sweepstake for the Grand National, which was won by Gary Clark who'd picked out Don't Push It for a euro. It wa a good day for the Englishman, who moved to nine under with a 68 as well as pocketing 40 euros.