Estoril Open News
Estoril Open de Portugal, The European Tour’s 1,145th event, bore witness to
history on Sunday, April 01, 2007, as Pablo Martin-Benavides became the first
amateur to win on The European Tour International Schedule.
The momentous day at Quinta da Marinha Oitavos Golfe on Portugal’s stunning
Estoril coast could also signal the beginning of an illustrious career for
Martin-Benavides, who has the pedigree to take on the world’s best.
That may seem a hyped observation, but Martin-Benavides’s ability, coupled with
his astonishing achievement in Portugal, is certainly worth shouting about.
He announced himself on the world stage at The European Tour’s Canarias Open de
España in 2003, when he led the tournament going into the final round as a 17
year old schoolboy, but finished in a tie for 22nd place.
Almost four years later, Martin-Benavides finished the job in emphatic style,
carding a flawless final round of three under par 68 to post a winning score of
seven under par 277 at Oitavos, one stroke better than Frenchman Raphaël
Jacquelin, who can console himself with the €208,330 first prize that would have
gone to Martin-Benavides had he been playing professionally.
Jacquelin may have won the money, but the glory most definitely belonged to the
20 year old from Malaga, who closed out his victory with the most assured par
four of the week on Oitavos’s notoriously difficult 474 yard par four 18th hole.
“I am really happy and proud,” said Martin-Benavides, who was ranked the Number
One player in American College golf last year.
“The funny thing is that I go to Oklahoma State University, and Scott Verplank
won as an amateur on the PGA Tour when he was studying there. My coaches have
been giving me stick about that for the last three years. They kept telling that
I was no good if I couldn’t win a pro event as an amateur! But it actually
helped me a little bit, even though it was a joke it helped me.
“I think anyone would feel pressure under those circumstances. But it’s really
the same kind of pressure than when I play in College. I’ll tell you something,
playing Nationals, that’s a lot of pressure. Last year I was in a play-off to
win a team event and all of my team-mates and their families are watching you
and I am thinking ‘if I miss this putt, they are going to kill me!’ If you are
playing for yourself it’s okay if you mess up.”
Martin-Benavides’s victory saw him beat the previous best performance by an
amateur in an official European Tour event of tied third by Nick Flanagan at the
2004 ANZ Championship, while Russell Claydon finished second at the 1988 UAP
European Under 25 Championship, a European Tour Approved Special Event.
““This is a great achievement for me and I think playing with Alex Noren, who I
played with at Oklahoma State in my Freshman year, today – as well as Ross, who
I played with before and who is a really good friend – made it like playing in
College. It might have been different if I was playing with big name players who
I usually watch on TV, but playing with them really helped. Having my really
good friend Ivan caddying for me and playing with Alex and Ross was something I
couldn’t have asked for.”
And with that, The European Tour’s first ever amateur champion went off to
celebrate with his family, friends and girlfriend. You get the feeling it won’t
be his first professional success.
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Madeira Open Golf Tournament 2007.