The awards keep coming for Portugal and the Algarve. Earlier this month, the country’s flagship tourism region was named “Europe’s Leading Beach Destination” in the annual World Travel Awards, and also starred in the World Spa Awards and World Luxury Restaurant Awards.
Now, Portugal overall has been honoured as “Europe’s Best Golf Destination” in the World Golf Awards, and nationally the Algarve has received awards for “Best Golf Course” (Quinta do Lago, South Course) and “Best Golf Hotel” (Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa) in Portugal.
Thanking the awards organisers for the award, Quinta do Lago CEO Sean Moriarty said, ”It goes without saying that this has been a challenging period, but having invested heavily in upgrading our South Golf Course and facilities in Quinta do Lago we are truly humbled and very proud to offer an experience of exceptional golf and true quality of life to our residents and guests. This award is of particular significance as we move into Quinta do Lago’s 50th year in 2022. We hope you will join us in the coming months in celebrating half a century of world-class golf in Quinta do Lago.”
Designed in 1974 by William Mitchell, who is credited with introducing American-standard greens, tees and bunkers to the Algarve, the 6,500 metre par-72 is set among umbrella pines, lakes and wild flowers, overlooking the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The South Course has hosted the Portuguese Open eight times, including Colin Montgomerie’s win in 1989.
Set amid two hectares (five acres) of landscaped gardens, Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa is adjacent to the Dom Pedro Pinhal Golf Course, and a convenient distance from central Vilamoura (one kilometre away), as well as the award-winning Vilamoura Marina and Falesia private beach (both within 20 minutes). The resort includes six pools with cascading waterfalls, Portugal’s largest spa and a children’s club.
Top-Flight Golf in the Algarve
Portugal’s award as the best golf destination in Europe is especially significant for the Algarve. As the International Association of Golf Travel Operators (IAGTO) noted in a news release on behalf of Visit Golf Algarve, “It’s hard to imagine the Algarve without thinking of golf, yet golf wasn’t born on this sunshine coastal area until 1966, when Henry Cotton first laid out the Championship course at Penina.
“Fast-forward half a century and our alluring region has not only become one of Europe’s premier holiday spots, but also an award-winning golf destination. With a staggering 43 nine or 18-hole layouts that can be played all-year-round, it’s no wonder the Algarve draws hundreds of thousands of golfers to its fairways each year.
“The Algarve is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, and more than half of its courses decorate the 150-mile (240-kilometres) coastline, which also boasts spectacular beaches, picturesque rocky coves, quaint fishing villages and a rich cultural heritage. The Algarve is the perfect destination for golfers of all ages and abilities, with something to suit every taste and budget.”
Fifth European Tour Title for Thomas Pieters
This past weekend, the Algarve provided the setting for the 15th edition of the Portugal Masters. Belgian star Thomas Pieters closed with a three-under 68 at the Dom Pedro Victoria course for a 19-under tournament total and two-shot win over Frenchman Matthew Pavon (who had shared the overnight lead with Pieters) and Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard (the 2017 champion) and Nicolai Højgaard, whose 64 was the lowest round of the final day.
It was Pieters’ fifth European Tour victory but his first since the 2019 D+D Real Czech Masters. “It feels amazing,” he said. “It felt like a long time between victories but (caddie) Adam and I worked so hard and it felt like a deserved one. Two years is a long time. I’ve had a child in the meantime, who talks and runs around. It does feel like a long time.
“I was going into this week and next week with my back to the wall. I had nothing to lose but everything to gain. I’ve never missed the end of the Race to Dubai and really didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t care if I finished first, second or third. I just wanted to get there, but winning is amazing.”
Ducati Reigns in Algarve MotoGP
Elsewhere on the Algarve last Sunday, at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve (AIA) in Portimão, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo) won the penultimate race of the 2021 MotoGP season. It was his third victory of the year, and the 25 points he collected secured the constructors title for Ducati.
Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) and Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo) joined him on the podium. Newly crowned world champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) crashed out with five laps remaining, while Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who is due to end his legendary career this week in Spain, in the Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana, was 13th.