2023 World Final

2022 WCGC Portugal National

Paulo Castelo and César Campos, at the service of the Audi team, had a season-ending in the World Corporate Golf Challenge (WCGC), winning the last two tournaments of 2022 to become the representatives of Portugal in the World Final.

The two former high-performance athletes in volleyball – clearly visible for their heights of (respectively) 1.79 and 1.90 meters – now converted to golf, began by winning the qualifying stage at Axis Ponte de Lima and then imposed themselves, at the Royal Óbidos Golf & Spa Resort, in the Final Nacional by Audi.

These two tournaments were played on fields of very different characteristics, in certain aspects to the opposite, and also took place in two other game modalities because Ana Massapina and Estela Sargento, founders of Golf Concept, a company that holds the WCGC Portugal license, chose – and well – to bring to the Final Nacional by Audi the same «fourball Stableford net» of the World Final in Tenerife.

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The ability to adapt to all the circumstances of Paulo Castelo and César Campos, but also the friendship that unites them, the seriousness with which they faced the preparation of these events, and the competitiveness that comes from their times of high competition were, in large part, the reasons for their success.

Mainly because when a sporting event with the relevance of a World Championship, such as the WCGC, is decided in a playoff, the pressure increases, everything is decided in small details, and it is in those moments that come to the fore such characteristics described, which reveal the complicity and team spirit that animates them.

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«César and I always saw golf, in addition to the competition, as fun because we are friends,» explains Paulo Castelo, the team captain, a former athlete from Sporting Espinho who added that «as happened at the Ponte de Lima stage, we were playing very well and we missed only one hole.»

«I always tell Paul that we go to the field to do as little as possible, and today, even when things went wrong, with the balls in difficult places, it was always looking for the birdie, the eagle, who also appeared… It was a fantastic day. In the game, we were good, one always compensating the other», evaluated, for his part, César Campos.

This formation of Audi totalled 44 points, the same as the team Alberto Mora Galiano, consisting of players Manuel Mestre Baviera and Guillermo Mestre.

It was necessary to resort to the «sudden death» on the 18th hole, which smiled at Audi under the gaze of dozens of participants, companions, sponsors and partners of the event, who, around the «green», did not want to miss this authentic «climax».

Audi players were deciding on a play-off title for the first time and felt each moment’s importance, each in their own way.

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«Maybe because I’ve played another sport and I’m more used to that pressure, I feel less pressure than Paul. Every time we play, you notice more pressure on his side. (In the play-off) He did very well in the first shots, but I realised he was quite nervous in the end. It turned out to be good, and we were very pleased that we won,» said César Campos.

‘Going to the play-offs was a strange feeling, but it went well. It’s different because we’re used to seeing in professional tournaments, and we can’t imagine the pressure that is a play-off, and I felt it today,» admitted Paulo Castelo.

The 29th WCGC World Final is scheduled for 17-21 October in Tenerife at the Costa Adeje Golf, a course that has hosted the Spanish Open of the Ladies European Tour. Portugal defends the title, won in 2021, in Cascais, by the Laranjo Tinoco Clinic.

«And now, it is towards Tenerife, try to defend the title and bring the cup to Portugal,» said Estela Sargento, one of the two «Licensee Holders» of the WCGC in Portugal, alongside Ana Massapina.

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The competitive balance of the National Final by Audi is attested by, just 2 points away from the two teams that discussed the play-off, they were six teams with 42 points, having been the third place assigned – through the second criterion of the tiebreaker system, the average WHS handicap – to the whole of Trigo Bom Bakery,  of Vítor António and Miguel Heliodoro, the winners of the qualifying stage of Amendoeira Golf Resort, in Silves.

It is, in fact, significant that two of the three first teams qualified in the National Final by Audi of the 23rd WCGC Portugal have also been champions in qualifying stages throughout the season.

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The competitive quality of the 36 teams was high, and there is no memory of a National Final of events of this quality, with more than half of the participants with a handicap single digit (38 out of 72 players).

Suffice it to say that the worst result was 27 points, an appreciable sum, considering that the course of Royal Óbidos, designed by the late Seve Ballesteros, is a tough test, with the wind that was felt even more. The field already manifested some preparation details for the Portuguese Open challenge tour,  making it even more difficult.

«We obviously have to make it less commercial, grow roughs, present faster greens, and put less water in the field. These WCGC players, especially on the greens side, have already begun to feel this preparation for the Challenge Tour and the roughs. At this point, when you leave the fairways, it’s already getting complicated,» explained Pedro Castelo Branco, director of golf at Royal Óbidos.

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The coming of the National Final by Audi to the stage of the Portuguese Open delighted most players. Perhaps the happiest of all was the well-known TV presenter of RTP (and also football coach) Jorge Gabriel because for three years he accepted the invitation of the Portuguese Golf Federation to be one of the «godfathers» of this Tournament of the European Challenge Tour.

«This is a field where you can combine the commercial and competitive aspects. There’s a perfect combination between a field with holes that are more complicated for medium players like me and others that entice us to get a little further, to get down than you did on the last record. That happened today, and I’ve already been satisfied. I’ve made fewer hits than I have ever played here,» Said Jorge Gabriel.

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«To have the Portuguese Open here is also to have a vision that this region (West) has to have on the part of all of us, players from the North, Central and South of the country, a greater connection. We should not consider these elite camps, which are only for foreigners. They’re for everyone. The Portuguese have the joy of playing on the stage where our national tournament is played, the largest of the national tournaments. Reconciling one thing and the other, for more, having here many friends that the WCGC can bring together, it’s gold on blue; it’s the icing on the cake,» said the ever-smiling communicator.

The Municipality of Óbidos (CMO) could not be more in agreement, and its new president, Filipe Daniel, made a point of visiting the National Final by Audi, accompanied by councilwoman Margarida Reis who, among several platoons, holds the sport.

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«We have done everything possible to give the greatest support to this initiative of the WCGC, even so, that we can better know the municipality of Óbidos. Sometimes we are only known for what goes on inside the walls, but we have a vibrant natural and cultural heritage. Golf represents an opportunity for differentiation in terms of sport», emphasised Filipe Daniel, a former high-performance practitioner in football and swimming.

The participants of WCGC Portugal are getting better and better prepared for this competition. The director of Royal Óbidos believes that «it is one of the most mediated, strongest tournaments on the annual calendar in Portugal. The WCGC has consolidated itself as a tournament of excellence, and having had its World Final for six years in Portugal will have given more visibility in national terms».

What is certain is that WCGC Portugal continues to grow. «After two difficult and atypical years, our balance sheet is very positive. We exceeded expectations, and we had great support from participating companies and sponsors,» said Estela Sargento of Golf Concept, referring to the fact that the qualifying stages had more teams.

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To all this prestige and historical weight, whether 29 years international and 23 editions in Portugal or six World Finals in Cascais, also joined a series of innovations that Golf Concept brought in 2022, being the most appreciated the creation of a ranking that awarded vacancies to the National Final by Audi,  rewarding attendance.

«I’ve played all the tournaments. There was a growing interest not only on my part but of those participating in any of the locations where the tournament took place. The ranking made my clearance; it was a novelty. It encourages participation and values those who want to try their luck more often and, in this case, accumulate to their attempt at luck, some merit for having participated and have made that effort. I think that in the next edition, more companies will do the same thing to ensure passage to the Final», said Jorge Gabriel.

The TV presenter is a fan of WCGC: «In this grand final, we have a closer notion of how a well-organized tournament can stimulate us and give us that kind of competition that brings some buzz, some nervous little, but that ends up knowing well».

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The 2022 WCGC national champions share the same view, and Paulo Castelo assured that «the organisation, as always, was excellent».

The mayor of Óbidos also liked what he saw: «I have had the feedback that the event is going very well, and it pleases us to make known this offer that Óbidos also has».

The sponsors and partners of WCGC Portugal also expressed their satisfaction, firstly because they were able to participate in a «clinic» of training and initiation to the sport, something that everyone always appreciates, but above all, by the showcase that the Final Nacional by Audi provided to its products among customers, participants and also many companions, in addition to the various entities involved.

According to Golf Concept, there have been several brand activations – Costa Verde, Bonne Maman, Nicola, Andros, USPOT and had two new partners ISPORTISTICS who made several filming of the event in which they will work in an innovative database and Thyme with caviar tasting.

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During the cocktail party, products from Adega de Redondo/Porta da Ravessa, Paradise Escape, Super Bock, Global International Relocation, Belmar, Distintus, Délifrance, Spin by Nectar – Tômbola Bee Engineering (digital), Banana da Madeira, Philips, Executive Digest, Marketeer, Green Savers, Jornal de Notícias, Diário de Notícias, O Jogo, Golfe Magazine were available. The event also featured a cultural aspect with the performance of Rancho Folclórico A Capeleira and Gaiteiro D’Óbidos.

All these moments are used for important networking between partners, with the testimony of Hugo Santos, CEO of Distintus, distinguished as Product of the Year 2022, in which he told us that he is already beginning to develop «gourmet» products with other WCGC partners in which his olive oil will be in evidence.

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Finally, WCGC Portugal also contributed a grant to the Portuguese Foundation of Cardiology, which, as pointed out by Ana Massapina, founding partner of Golf Concept, «promotes the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular diseases and strokes, by raising awareness of the adoption of healthy behaviours, such as playing golf». A percentage of the value of each entry reverted to the foundation, but during the National Final by Audi, several players made personal donations.

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We can now wait for Portugal to participate in the World Final in Tenerife, and the new WCGC national champion, César Campos, could not be more pleased:

«It’s the first time that Paulo and I will represent Portugal in an event outside the usual amateur tournaments, and we will do our best. We hope to make a good ranking. And for us Portuguese, it is much more exciting not to be this time in Portugal because I do not know Tenerife».

Hugo Ribeiro / PRESS OFFICER – Text written according to the Orthographic Agreement – converted by the Lynx.