After Ireland scooped first prize in the professional competition with Eamon Brady, John Kelly and Robert Giles finishing on -20 with 8 shots to spare over Scotland, it was veteran and former Irish international Ivan Morris who won the PGAs of Europe EGTMA Media Masters on Roda Golf & Beach Resort.
The assembled European media had previously played 3 rounds on Hacienda Del Alamo, La Manga North and La Peraleja before descending on Roda the day after Ireland took the team championship trophy. The course was set up identical to what the PGA professionals had to endure plus the organisation at the hands of the PGA tournament staff offered all journalists the possibility to sample golf as it's played 'within the ropes'.
Ivan Morris from GolfDigest Ireland went into the final round 6 points ahead of Jo Maes (GolfBUZZ and EGTMA Chairman). The experienced campaigner Ivan Morris, who plays of 5, never let any of the competitors come close. He was however slightly fazed when Jo Maes (8 Hcp) hit driver, 3 wood to within 5 metres of the pin on the long Par 5 first. Maes' eagle putt stopped inches from the hole and he then went on to miss a 3 footer on the next hole to allow Morris to cruise to victory. The combination of hitting fairways and greens saw Ivan Morris finish with a total of 34 points in testing conditions and the title of PGAs of Europe Media Master was his. The ladies section was won by Inge Kent from England who cruised to victory. The Srixon Longest drive was taken by Jo Maes and the Glenmuir Nearest to the Pin on the testing Par 3, 16th belonged to Ian Randell, PGAs of Europe Chief Executive. Billy Sim (Hcp 3), golf director of Hacienda del Alamo took the guest prize with a consistent display of skill when he averaged 32 points in trying conditions. The final round also offered the media to try a new 'live scoring' system with special scorecards and pens that transmit the registered scores in real time to a monitor in the clubhouse and scorers tent.
The EGTMA was brought out to Murcia to recognise the efforts made by the local golf resorts and the tourist board to put the region on the map as one of the upcoming golf destinations in Europe. During the week, the media was also invited to attend the PGAs of Europe annual congress in which the recent economic difficulties were a prominent feature. The economic impact of golf on tourism, facts and figures compiled by KPMG offering a benchmark for all courses to measure themselves against, the environmental impact of golf and how to use this for the golf club's benefit and the mushrooming of the 'nomad golfer' as a result of the change in society were topics that were of particular interest to many of the journalists. During the gala dinner, the PGA's of Europe awarded their 5-star professional qualifications and the region offered Sandy Jones, PGAs of Europe president, an award for services to the region. Being in Spain, many of the speakers gave homage to Seve Ballesteros who is currently recovering from a life saving operation and who represents the ultimate professional. The Media Masters was made possible with the support of Caledona, the developer company behind the Roda Golf & Beach Resort, the local tourist board and Hacienda Del Alamo, La Manga and La Peraleja. Glenmuir and Srixon kindly donated prizes and the PGAs of Europe's tournament staff supervised and set up the final round.
The region of Murcia is working very hard to become one of the leading golf destinations in Europe. An average of 320 days of sunshine is obviously instrumental to appeal to golfers but also the quality of the infrastructure, the number of airlines servicing the region and the vision of the people in charge of golf by putting themselves out there as a region rather than an individual golf course will be instrumental to the success of Murcia becoming a 'must go to' golf destination.