By Valdemar Afonso
The Sata Azores Open, one of the main tourist promotion posters in the region through sport and which was also the “pride” of the Azorean communities in the USA and Canada, was interrupted 15 years ago, without the reason of the suspension ever having been announced, when the tournament registered great sporting and social success.
The last edition of Sata took place in October 2007 and included a pro-am, a tournament for amateurs and three rounds for professionals, involving the Furnas and Batalha courses. Between players and companions, in the last editions of the tournament, more than two hundred people traveled to S. Miguel arriving on Sata planes, occupying hotels, restaurants and traveling the island during the week. And they then promoted the region with their stories and images.
This tournament was the main reason for many Azorean emigrants, then successful businessmen, to visit their land and show the Azores to their friends and neighbors, of various nationalities. And every year, groups from various parts of the USA and Canada (Rhode Island, Florida, Newark, New Jersey, Toronto, etc.) included new visitors, professionals or amateurs.
The gala dinner and prize giving, in recent years at Batalha GC's panoramic restaurant, had always been the “high point” of this pride in showing the best that the Azores has to offer.
The Sata Azores Open started at the Furnas course, when it was the only course in S. Miguel, and with the opening of Batalha (1996) it began to occupy both courses. Over the years, many hotels and restaurants on Ilha Verde became known through this tournament.
The last edition, in 2007, was won by the then young Portuguese professional Tiago Cruz with 211 (72-68-71) strokes, 5 under par (Batalha), followed by the Canadian Lee Curry by two strokes. Among the participants were (among others) the veteran José Maria Canizares and Pedro Linhart (winner of the Madeira Open).
After the suspension (or extinction) of the Sata Azores Open, Turismo dos Açores promoted an edition of the Seniors Open in 2008 and four Ladies Azores Open tournaments, in the second division of the Ladies European Tour. But they stayed there. There was no further promotion through golf.
Why did they end the Sata Azores Open?
The PGA of America, Ryder Cup Europe and the PGA Tour jointly announced early july that both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup have been rescheduled and will now be played one year later than originally planned.
Montebelo Golf, in Viseu, will now have a FootGolf course, a sport that is growing internationally, with the “kick-off” at the end of October, the date on which the new sport becames available on the course of Visabeira Turismo.
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