Article by Ben Evans of Cutting Edge Golf

Players from Belgium and France share top spot on the leaderboard after the first round of the European Disabled Golf Association’s (EDGA) 1st Portugal Open, held at Penina Hotel & Golf Resort on the Algarve, Sunday, 19th April.

Adem Wahbi of Belgium earned the joint-lead with France’s Manuel de los Santos at +8 (81), on the challenging par 73, 5,827 meter course set up by Sir Henry Cotton in 1966, and which was now delivering a difficult breeze and firm and quick greens to really test the 24 players in the strokeplay category.

After a triple-bogey on the difficult second hole, Adem Wahbi rallied well and picked up two birdies on holes 10 and 15 to put himself in contention to win on Monday. “Mentally I was OK after that start,” he later told EDGA TV. “The course was difficult and I tried to attack, so tomorrow I will play very safe.”

He’ll have to find something extra to beat playing partner Manuel de los Santos, also +8, who remained focused even after a quadruple bogey on the par-4, 12th. Manuel said: “When you get a double-double bogey like that, you have to say, OK, it’s onto the next hole!” He described the greens as “fantastic” but a tough test.

A view shared by the third player in this threeball, 4-handicap Philippe Pee of France, who lies 3 shots behind the leaders after a +11, 84. He said he found it difficult to put the ball close to the challenging par 3 pin positions, which led to 3 double bogeys on those holes. “This is a beautiful, fantastic golf course,” Philippe said. “The greens are very fast but I am only 3 behind so it should be good tomorrow.”

For Monday, the three men are drawn to play together again and will be confident but aware of the threat of Mick Horsley (UK) at +12, and Miroslav Lindinsky at +14, from the Czech Republic. The three leading players clearly relish playing together, sharing much respect and humour, with Adem Wahbi saying of his strategy: “I am looking to beat them!” Belgium v France, you’ll read it here first.