The 3rd Portugal Golf Croquet Open took place from the 6th – 8th of October and was held at the beautiful Bela Romao Croquet Club near Tavira. This was only my second international tournament so I didn’t quite know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised with the number of countries being represented at the this year’s event and also with the quality of players who had entered. Eight countries were represented in this year’s events with players ranging from America to Venezuela and the draw consisted of 24 players pitted into 4 blocks of 6 with the top two from each group moving onto the quarter-final knock-out.
The block-stage games were 13 point games each timed at 50minutes. The timer came into the equation in my first game with time being called at 5-5 making hoop 11 the game decider which after a long back and forth finally went my way giving me a 6-5 victory in my opening game. The rest of my block games were quite challenging and I went onto to win four out of my five group games losing my only game to German – Christian Beitler. Once all the calculations had being tabulated I eventually found out I had topped my group and would be facing Spaniard Miguel Bausa in the quarter-finals on Sunday morning.
Saturday night played host to the tournament dinner where entrants and their families gathered for a night of beer, wine and tremendous seafood! The hospitality and organization of the tournament creators and organizers – Lita Gale and Sarah Byrne was absolutely suburb with lunches, drinks and even a swimming pool being provided for the players and their families. Sunday morning was the stage of the quarterfinals with each game being contested in a 13 point game. Unfortunately for me, this is where the croquet fun ended for myself. The game was certainly a rollercoaster and I raced to a 5-3 lead before Miguel made two stunning long shots to peg the game back to 5 a piece, hoop 11 was one of the longest hoops I have ever competed in with both of us seemingly being unable to miss clearance shots, thankfully for my sanity I managed to edge clear to a 6-5 lead before swiftly losing hoop 12. The 13th and final hoop saw both of us miss early chances for the match until finally, Miguel held his nerve to run a somewhat difficult hoop 13!
Although this was the end of my charge there was still plenty of croquet to be played and Norwegian Roar Michalsen had being making significant noise throughout the tournament going undefeated in the group stage and easily winning his quarterfinal and semifinals against tough opposition. The final saw Miguel and Roar go head to head in an eagerly anticipated tussle between two talented golf croquet players. The final however ended up being fairly one-sided with Roar coming out of the traps like Usain Bolt going on to take a 7-2 lead. Miguel, however, began to rally a mini fight back but eventually lost out 10-5 in what was a very entertaining final.