Our press officer in Italy brings you all the action from the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open…
La Dolce Vita
Thursday evening saw a cut party of sorts, an evening for players, staff, volunteers and guests to sample the delights of the Puglia region of Italy, down in the 'heel' of the boot. No effort was spared as wine tasting and numerous local delicacies were on offer, and music was provided by a local band. It was a cracking evening, and reinforced the belief that this is one of the best tournaments of the Challenge Tour schedule. Not only do the players have a magnificent course to play, the hospitality here is second to none.
On the straight and narrow
Forget the tough courses of Major Championships, Acaya Golf Resort is one of the sternest tests on any schedule – as the players found out in last year’s inaugural edition. It may look a stunning picture with its immaculate fairways and numerous water hazards, but it can bring even the best golfers to their knees with its penal rough. Last season the halfway cut was seven over par - the joint highest of the year - and the winning total – by England’s Jamie Moul – was eight under par. Staying on the fairways here is imperative, but that will be made even more challenging by the high winds forecast for this week. It’s not likely to be a birdie-fest, but it will certainly separate the men from the boys.
Having covered the first edition of the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open in 2011, I was delighted to find out I’d be going to the event again this year. Acaya Golf Resort is quite simply stunning with its fabulous layout, lush views and top-class adjoining hotel. Throw in great weather and some of the best food you’ll ever eat and it’s a recipe for an excellent week. There is something for everyone here – great beaches, a world-class golf course and the historic city of Lecce on the doorstep for those with a thirst for culture. The players vary in how much they see, with some keen to get a taste for the local area and its history and others happy to sit by the pool and unwind from a tough round, but either way the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
Good luck in The Open, guys
The tournament is missing a few names, but those skipping the Doubletree by Hilton Acaya Open have a decent excuse – they are playing in The 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Annes. Challenge Tour players Rafa Echenique, Ian Keenan, Morten Orum Madsen, Scott Pinckney, Elliot Saltman, Steven Tiley, Sam Walker and Dale Whitnell all won spots at the year’s third Major Championship through Local Final Qualifying and everyone at the Challenge Tour wishes them all the best for the week.