Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan will tee off their title defence for Team Ireland at the GolfSixes Cascais against an England Women’s team featuring Ladies European Tour stars Meghan MacLaren and Florentyna Parker, as the innovative event makes its first appearance on continental European soil.
“It’s set up for a fun format for the week,” said Dunne. “There’s good will between all the competitors. Once we get on the course we’re going to want to win but it’s a good festival atmosphere around it. The weather helps when you’re in the sunshine.
The Portuguese coastal region of Cascais, and Oitavos Dunes Golf Club, host the fun and inclusive six-hole format which proved so popular in its first two years in England, with 16 nations battling it out over two days in team match play with modified Greensomes.
“It’s very different to last year,” said Moynihan, “last year there were a lot of drivers and you could just be very aggressive off the tee. This year there’s a lot of three irons or three woods and you just position it, really. You’re not going to have long shots in for your second shots so you just have to be in the fairway and give yourself a look on each hole. I think it sets up well for us because hopefully it will be windy each day as well. We’re looking forward to the week.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for the last few weeks. It’s always great playing team golf, even going back to the amateur days, playing home internationals and Walker Cup, they’re just a great week. Obviously the golf is the main event but you just have so much fun. Just enjoy it and then when you get on the golf course it’s just normal business.”
The opening day will be played in a round-robin format, featuring four groups of four, and the top two teams in each group will progress to Saturday’s knockout stages when an action-packed day eventually produce.
Three former Ryder Cup winners are in the field, with Jamie Donaldson joined in Team Wales by Stuart Manley, Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher paired with David Law and Team Italy led by Edoardo Molinari – he is joined by Lorenzo Gagli.
The four Wildcard teams include host nation Team Portugal – featuring childhood friends Pedro Figueiredo and Ricardo Gouveia – a Germany Women’s team of rising stars Esther Henseleit and Laura Fuenfstueck, England Women and the defending champions from Ireland.
“I really like it,” said Henseleit. “Usually it’s only for men and it’s great to get an invitation to play here. It’s my rookie year but I really like it and I’ve done quite well the first few months. I think we’ll just try to do our best and I am a little longer so maybe Laura will go first and I go after her, and hopefully we can make a lot of birdies.”
“I’ve played in the Jordan Mixed Open this year and I think that’s been pretty big for us,” said Fuenfstueck, “I think we’re all fighting for the same cause at the moment, I think some of the men are getting into it too. They know we can actually play just as good as them, just not quite hitting the same distance.
“I think we had a really nice tournament in Jordan and coming back here and getting to play with the men again, it’s just nice to have those opportunities and we’re trying to do the same as Charley last year.”