We can tee up to welcome legends

The annual Audemars Piguet Invitational Golf Tournament returns for a second time next week at the Blue Tip course and as well as that, three legendary Italian footballers from the past will also be here to coach kids. The tournament is the Friends Invitational Pro-Am and runs from 14-18 December at the course at the Ritz-Carlton.  

The former players are Gianfranco Zola, Daniele Massaro and Pierluigi Casiraghi. The golf pros include Steve Flesch, Skip Kendall, Brian Davis, Paige MacKenzie, Sean Hogan, Peter Hanson, Richard Johnson, Thomas Levet, Greg Owen, Marcello Santi, Alexander Noren, Kendall Ann Wright and Cassandra Blaney.  

Massaro and Casiraghi are World Cup winners and Zola was voted Chelsea’s greatest ever player. It is all organised by former golfer Marcello Santi who used to star on the European Tour. 

“It has long been a dream of mine to make the Cayman Islands a golfing destination and through events like this year’s Audemars Piguet Golf Invitational I am happy to say my dream is becoming a reality,” Santi said. He called upon his friends in the golfing community to come and participate so it is because of his invitations that the event is happening. 

There will be 11 golf pros besides the three footballing greats. Santi wants to give the local residents an opportunity to play with professional golfers so that they might learn some new techniques and skills, along with better course management. Getting them to think differently about the hole, value the risks differently so that they may get the ball in a better position for the next shot. 

Santi is interested in giving something back to the community, which is why he is organising the soccer camps in conjunction with the Academy Football Club. There is also a golf clinic for the kids at the North Sound Club again to give the children an opportunity to learn from a professional. Sean Hogan will be the instructor. He works for the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.  

Santi’s dream is to establish this as an annual event and possibly some day bring a Professional Golf Association event to Cayman. He is also interested in raising awareness of Cayman as a golf destination and exposing all his golf friends to Cayman hospitality. 

The tournament is being pushed heavily as part of Cayman’s tourism product by local government. Among the supporters are the Premier McKeeva Bush, the Minister of Youth and Sports Mark Scotland, Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott and Ministerial Council chairman Cline Glidden Jr. Main sponsors include Audemars Piguet, Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. 

A special attraction for the public will be the fun football game between a team of legendary players and sponsors against the golf pros. It is on Friday 16 December at the Camana Bay playing field at 5pm. It should be a great spectacle and everyone is welcome.  

Brian Davis

Brian Davis is one of the tournament favourites.