The Race to Mijas was on going through the 2022 International Pairs Season, golfers from around the globe joined in on what could possibly be the highlight of their amateur golfing walk of life. It was the largest World Final for The International Pairs which took place at La Cala Hotel & Golf Resort, 14-18 November 2022. It was a momentous year for the International Pairs with new countries coming onboard to experience their much anticipated first World Final.

Finalists and participants travelling from across the globe had their first glimpse of what the area of Mijas has to offer, set high up in the mountainous region of Mijas, an artistically carved out layout with high rolling fairways that stretches for miles, was the first look into of what lies ahead for the next few days on their journey to becoming World Champions.

Monday – A Warm welcome.

The world finalists and participants were greeted with drinks and canapes in La Cala Hotel’s courtyard on the opening night. A relaxed evening where everyone could mingle and settle into their home for the next 4 days.

The first night was also a very special time for the International Pairs future as the new concept of the Ryder Experience were introduced. After 24 years, it was the first-time direct entrants and guests could experience the World Final of the International Pairs without having to qualify through their national final.

The Ryder experience is a special new division at the world final where golfers from around the World can enter directly into a unique golfing experience. Teams consists of licensees, sponsors, special guests, and direct entrants. The golfers are captained by past Ryder Cup players with the likes of Eddie Polland, Manuel Pinero, Ronan Rafferty, and Costantino Rocca. Boasting over 50 professional wins and 7 Ryder Cup appearances between them, it was a special moment for all in attendance when the teams were announced the night before their practice round.

Tuesday – Practice Makes Perfect

On Tuesday morning, golfers had a chance to see what the official 2022 World Final golf course of Campo America had to offer. A par 72 that stretches just over 6000 meters, very much a risk and reward course which fortunes the brave, Campo America is enhanced by spectacular views to the Sierra de Ojén and Mediterranean Sea. It’s wide, linked fairways and relatively few bunkers make this a slightly easier driving course, although the hilly topography requires some carry across steep brush-covered side slopes, while the small raised greens demands more precise club selection to hit the mark.

The practice round was followed by the 24-year-old traditional International Pairs flag ceremony, a proud moment in time for all the world finalists as they would carry their flag and the realization of representing their country was apparent.

Tuesday Evening all attendees were met with stories and words of encouragement from the Ryder Experience Captains before the start of their opening tournament round– a truly once in a lifetime experience.

Wednesday – Tournament Round 1

With cameras on all participants and finalists throughout the event, everyone had a taste of what a tour pro could experience stepping up to the first tee. The excitement and nerves of the golfers could be clearly seen and felt in the atmosphere as the possibility of becoming World Champions were ringing in their heads. It was an exciting tussle in the World Final Championship, as the 3 teams of Dominican Republic, South Africa and Namibia were tied at the top of the World Championship leaderboard, closely followed by team Zimbabwe and team Portugal. The Women’s Division saw the same trend as the team from Namibia and South Africa leading the way and it was all to play for come round 2.

In the Ryder Experience a team camaraderie was being built as the Ryder Experience Captains supported their teams throughout the full 18 holes, sharing their wisdom and keeping the players hopes up as they plotted their way through the round. A truly mesmerizing sight to witness of players being up close and personal on the course with these esteemed legends of the game. The team of Eddie Polland managed to fight their way to a 2 shot lead after the first day, followed by team Manuel Pinero in second, team Costantino Rocca in third and Ronan Rafferty’s team in fourth.

After round 1, all golfers were free to relax and explore the surrounding areas of Mijas.

Thursday – Tournament Round 2

Tensions were running high in the morning as it was only a few hours away from crowning the World Champions and Ryder Experience winners. A seeded draw saw the leading teams tee off at the back of the field. The team of Pablo Rodriguez Castillo and Ceasar Rodriguez from Dominican Republic were extending their lead after an extremely hot start in the first 5 holes, but could not keep the momentum going through the entire round. The team from South Africa found trouble on the second day and could not make up the deficit. An unexpected fantastic second round from the Kenya pairing of Kush Shah and Chand Shah saw them jump to the top of the leaderboard but the victory was not secure yet as the team from Namibia in the back of the field was making a final run in the last few holes. Thanks to their fantastic finish on the last two holes the pairing of Hylton Villet and Bertus Damon secured the World Final Championship by 1 point for Namibia.

The Women’s division were just as intense, the team from Namibia started off slow with two opening 1 pointers which opened the gap for the pairing of Sonja Kohler and Suzanne Christian to sneak their way up the leaderboard, it was a rough start for the South African pairing of Danielle van Heerden and Jhanelle Strydom but two 4 pointers got them back on track. Brenda Lens from team Namibia managed to hit the perfect shot in golf on the par 3 – 8th, a hole in one, a very rare feat for any golfer. Unfortunately, this was not enough for the Namibian pairing of Brenda Lens and Zandra Kruger as the South African pairing of Danielle and Jhanelle kept their nerves in check and managed to secure their victory. Quite an astonishing task as Jhanelle Strydom’s father Mario Strydom was the 2019 International Pairs World Final Champion, like father, like daughter some would say.

International Pairs Women’s Champions 2022 – Danielle van Heerden & Jhanelle Strydom

In the Ryder Experience, players had to work together in the 2-person betterball format on day 2, Ronan Rafferty’s team made a jump on day 2 from the last spot to 3rd as Costantino’s Team dropped their 3rd spot to 4th. There was a tight battle between Team Eddie Polland and Team Manuel Pinero but the team of Eddie Polland managed to keep their lead, securing their victory over Manuel Pinero’s team by only 2 points.

See the full leaderboards here: https://internationalpairsgolf.com/wf-results-live-scoring/

As the adrenaline dissipated from the exciting finishes throughout all the divisions, it was time for celebrations at the Gala Dinner of the International Pairs final evening, a huge thank you to the official partners of the 2022 World Final, Holiday Golf, Ofelia T, Maui Jim sunglasses, and Vypsa Volvo.

Thank you to Mijas for giving everyone one of the most spectacular World Finals in International Pairs history.

The 2022 World Final saw finalists from 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to covid travel restirictions – they were crowned at the 2022 World Final

Lebeus Kangandjela & Edwin Kutara from team Namibia – 2020 International Pairs World Final Champions – crowned at the 2022 World Final
Kush Shah & Chand Shah from team Kenya – 2021 International Pairs World Final Champions – crowned at the 2022 World Final
Sonja Kohler & Suzanne Christian from Team South Africa – 2020 International Pairs World Final Women Champions – crowned at the 2022 World Final
Lydia Lumley & Julian Hart from team Namibia – 2021 International Pairs World Final Women Champions – crowned at the 2022 World Final

The First Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Tourism of Mijas, José Carlos Martín, together with the Councilor for Sports, Andrés Ruiz, have presented this event which, in the words of Martín, is part of “a firm commitment with which we have been working since a long time ago to strengthen and promote our golf segment” because “it is one of our most important tourist attractions” read the full article from Mijas here: https://mijascomunicacion.com/deportes/25785/mijas-sera-sede-de-la-final-del-international-pairs-golf/

A gift of appreciation from Mijas Town Hall to the team of International Pairs

Thank you to Mijas Town Hall for their warm hospitality and providing International Pairs with a spectacular World Final venue.