Vilamoura Golf Club player, Francisco Matos Coelho, won for the second consecutive year the Venice International Junior Open, the U.S. Kids Golf Tour tournament, which ended last Saturday, 20 August, in Italy.
It was not, however, a traditional revalidation of the title, because the Vilamoura Golf Club player had won last year at the level of sub-12 and this year competed in the under-13 tournament, which was attended by 11 players from five countries.
Kiko – as it appears officially in the leaderboards of international tournaments – added 143 strokes, one below the Par Golf Club Frassanelle, delivering 74 and 69 cards.
At the end of the first round, the Lisbon natural representing the Algarve club shared the command with the Italian Vincenzo Pietropaolo (74 + 79), but then in the second round, achieved the only result below par in the two days of competition, to crush the field and triumph with a lead of 9 shots on the 2nd classified, the Italian Pietro Pontiggia (76 + 76).
In theoretical terms, to those who look only to the results, this was a success much easier than last year, then achieved by only 2 strokes, but Pedro Matos Coelho, the player’s father, who accompanied him to Italy ensures that those who watched the tournament cannot make such a simplistic analysis.
“The final numbers (-1) with a difference of 9 strokes for 2nd place, are misleading. The first day ended with two players tied in 1st place, the 3rd was 2 strokes and 4 at just 3. In 28 holes Kiko won by only 3 strokes and everyone knew that, by the end , a difference of 6 or 7 strokes could mean nothing because any imperfect tee-shot would give an immediate penalty that could be difficult to manage,” he added.
But why such a dilated advantage was necessary? It has everything to do with the fact that the Frassanelle course is completely different from Della Montecchia where Kiko won last year: “The field was extraordinarily strategic and, therefore, very difficult. In the middle of a forest, with water hazards on every hole and 18 holes, 10 were doglegs (three of them in perfect L and 30 meters in order to stop the ball and have a green spot). The driver could only be used in 7 holes. The tee off had to be perfect and the big problem was the anguish of knowing that at any time, on any tee-shot, a small flaw could result immediately in a bogey or a double bogey with ball in the water or out of bounds.”
The sub-14 national champion lived this experience on the first day. It could have been isolated in front of the 18-hole, not a back end to forget. That’s why in the second day you can never relax, even when he was at the top of the standings: “On the first day, the beginning of the 17th hole, Kiko was 2 strokes below par, but missed the last two tee-offs resulting in two double bogeys (17:18). ”
If the recent World US Kids Golf (where Kiko got a top-10) the player’s father felt that the main problem were the approaches to the green and some bad decisions in terms of risk. On the contrary on this occasion he was “permanently focused on tee-offs and an had an impressive mindset that earned him one of the most intense experiences for the future.”
Alone at the top Kiko “has not failed a single tee-shot unlike his opponents who have collected poor results in the last hole. He played nearly flawlessly and if the putting was a little better he could have done 3 or 4 strokes less”.
Last year, Francisco Matos Coelho won two titles in U.S. Kids Golf circuit. This year, he changed his age group and has added one more.
At the same Venetian tournament, the Portuguese Tomás Araujo, CG Miramar, was the runner-up at the sub-9 competition.
This year, for the first time, the US Kids Golf will have stages in Portugal, with the so-called Lisbon Local Tour consisting of six tournaments:
- Quinta do Peru Golf & Country Club (September 3);
- Lisbon Sports Club (September 18 );
- Santo Estêvão (9 October);
- Ribagolfe-1 (30 October);
- Ribagolfe-2 (27 November);
- Quinta da Beloura (8 December).
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