An international field of 25 teams made up of professionals and amateurs from across Europe and beyond including Holland, United Arab Emirates, Austria, France, Czech Republic, Israel, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Ireland and the UK gathered at the resort in Murcia to take part in the new event.
With La Manga Club’s renowned South and West courses providing a thorough examination of the players’ skills, Holland’s Joost Steenkamer emerged to take top honours in the professional tournament as he completed a four-shot win after mounting a stunning comeback in his final nine holes.
PGA of Spain professional James Ferraby and his team of Russian amateurs, Pavel Shestopalov, Vitaly Samsonov and Alfonso Grijalva, claimed first prize in the team competition after scoring 89 Stableford points in the 54-hole event, and everyone was unanimous in their verdict of the new tournament and La Manga Club, with PGAs of Europe chief executive Ian Randell leading the plaudits.
“It has been a great pleasure for the PGAs of Europe to reignite our relationship with the La Manga Club this week with this pro-am," said Randell.
“Director of golf Gary Silcock and the team at La Manga Club has done an incredible job, and prepared and executed a tournament befitting of the club and its rich history with us. Our tournament schedule has greatly advanced this year and it is fitting that we have been able to return to La Manga Clubwhere much of the association's early history was formed.
“With 25 teams from across the continent enjoying the fabulous facilities, this inaugural pro-am has been an unqualified success.”
Formerly the continental European base of the PGAs of Europe, hosting the association’s Annual Congress and International Team Championships, the event was the first time for many years that the PGAs of Europe has joined forces with Spain’s flagship resort after reviving the relationship.
In addition to golf, competitors also enjoyed four nights’ five-star bed and breakfast hotel accommodation and a number of other benefits including a lavish gala dinner and prize-giving ceremony, and La Manga Club general manager Jose Asenjo is aiming for the event to become a regular fixture on the golfing calendar.
“It was an honour for La Manga Club to work with the PGAs of Europe again and we hope this will be the start of a long-lasting relationship,” said Asenjo after watching Steenkamer close out victory.
“The event was a huge success and was a further opportunity for us to demonstrate why the resort is so popular with golfers from all over the continent.
“We have received some fantastic feedback and comments, and the response is a further illustration that La Manga Club’s appeal to both professionals and amateurs remains stronger than ever.”
Second-round leader Steenkamer looked to have blown his chance of victory after reaching the turn of his last round in 42 shots which included five bogeys.
But the Dutchman rallied brilliantly, carding four birdies in his final nine holes to finish on level par for the tournament, comfortably clear of PGA of Sweden professional Mikael Lundberg with PGA of GB & Ireland professional Brendan McGovern taking third place.
The pro-am forms part of a busy winter and spring programme for La Manga Club that will see it confirm its position as Europe’s leading sports and leisure destination.
As well as staging the 2014 Spanish Seniors International Amateur Championship last month, La Manga Club – voted Spain’s top golf resort by UK readers of Today’s Golfer magazine for the third year in a row in January – will host the finale to Scandivania’s Ecco Tour later this month.
A new Leadbetter Golf Academy, the only such facility in mainland Spain, is set to open in the coming months while an on-going and extensive upgrade to the resort’s driving range will complement the resort’s other five-star golf facilities, which include three 18-hole championship courses.
As well as golf, the resort boasts unrivalled facilities as a sports and leisure destination including a 28-court tennis centre and a 2,000sqm spa and fitness centre. It also offers the choice of a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments and townhouses, more than 20 bars and restaurants.