Players marvelling at magnificent Madeira

5/17/2013 5:25:36 PM
Golfers prepare in the practice area...  (Getty Images)
Golfers prepare in the practice area... (Getty Images)
The Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI is a tournament growing in strength and popularity and the players in the field this week have been enjoying every minute on an island which provides a testing golf course, breath-taking views and the friendliest of welcomes.

From the moment players landed on the seaside runway at Funchal airport this week, they have been treated to one of the most stunning venues on The European Tour’s schedule.

The magnificent archipelago, located west of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean provides wall-to-wall views reminiscent of a postcard picture

The Clube de Golf do Santo da Serra sits 700 metres up, where views of the villages below as well as the cliffs and peninsulas in the distance must be seen to be believed.

Englishman Tom Lewis, who won the Portugal Masters in 2011, is making his debut at Madeira this week and has been blown away by the island.

“It feels quite a long way from Portugal mainland but it is beautiful here, the views are incredible,” he said. “The course is lovely too.
“My family are out and it’s a lovely place to come so I'm enjoying it and hopefully the weather will hold out for the week.”

Former Ryder Cup player Thomas Levet, meanwhile, has friends who live in the area and is thoroughly enjoying his return to the island for the first time in 14 years, especially the deceptively difficult nature of the golf course.

“I have friends here in Madeira and I always like this kind of golf course where nothing is a given,” said the six-time European Tour winner. “It’s not too long but you need to be precise and that’s what I do well so that’s why I came here.

“It’s a nice place but let’s hope it gets a little warmer because it’s quite cold out there on the golf course in the morning.”

Mats Lanner, who is the only player to have won this tournament twice and is refereeing at the Madeira Islands Open – Portugal – BPI this week, believes the course has undertaken vast improvements since his last victory there in 1998 and has a great fondness for the island.

 “It has really improved since I was playing here,” he said. “The greens are looking great this year, the rough is so much better now than it has been so it is definitely going in the right direction.

“The views are inspirational. If you have a clear day it’s breath-taking, unbelievable.”