Team Etihad take out Legacy of Legends golfing challenge

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Following a whistle-stop 3-day visit to Myanmar and Singapore, the quartet of former Manchester United greats, Dennis Irwin, Clayton Blackmore, Lee Sharpe and Andy Cole made a return trip to Pattaya on Wednesday, June 12 for the final leg of their Legacy of Legends charity fund-raising tour.

Rather than another gala dinner event, this time the ex-soccer stars were aiming to display their sporting prowess on the lush fairways of Phoenix Golf Club, accompanied by many keen local golfers and sports fans eager to spend further time with the footballing heroes.

Team Etihad players Khun Phakorn, Khun Payunsak, Lee Sharpe and Russell Jay Darrell stand on stage with the winner’s trophy alongside Dennis Irwin, Clayton Blackmore and Andy Cole.Team Etihad players Khun Phakorn, Khun Payunsak, Lee Sharpe and Russell Jay Darrell stand on stage with the winner’s trophy alongside Dennis Irwin, Clayton Blackmore and Andy Cole.

Even a heavy downpour on the morning of the event couldn’t dampen the spirits of the players as they gathered at Phoenix in preparation for the midday tee-off.  With the weather clearing just in time, the course drainage system did its job and the players found all 18 holes to be in immaculate condition.  Indeed, the ex-United players remarked that Phoenix was the best course they had played on during their trip around SE Asia.

A Flight winner Clayton Blackmore (left) is congratulated by CEA’s Kevin Fisher.A Flight winner Clayton Blackmore (left) is congratulated by CEA’s Kevin Fisher.

The scoring system utilized on the day was the stableford format and the field was split into four and five-ball teams with the best three scores from each team counting in the battle for the winners’ trophy.  There was also an individual stableford tournament running concurrently, with three flights separated at handicaps 0-12, 13-18 & 19-24.  With some fabulous prizes up for grabs provided by the generous sponsors it was all to play for as the shotgun start set the field on its way.

It was perhaps fitting that one of the major sponsors of this Legacy of Legends event in Thailand, Etihad Airways, rolled in first in the team competition as Khun Phakorn (38pts) and Khun Payunsak (37pts), ably supported by Lee Sharpe (36pts) and local radio DJ, Russell Jay Darrell, posted a winning score of 111 points.

Team Etihad was followed up the podium steps by ‘Team Dave Bowers’, consisting of Shane Ruddle, David Done, Rich Hurley, Dennis Steele and Dave Bowers himself, with a combined score of 110 points, and finishing on the same score but losing second place on count back was ‘Team Justin’ whose members included Pongpob Boonjun, Surin Boonsaduak, Runksan Yaulmanee, Khun Tavit and Khun Chookieat.

In the individual event, United legend Clayton Blackmore belied his 11 handicap to post 40 points over the testing Phoenix layout, winning the A Flight ahead of Michael Moir on 39.

‘Team Justin’ provided the top two in the B Flight as Pongpob Boonjun just edged his teammate Surin Boonsaduak on a count back, both finishing on 37 points, and in the C Flight there was a lady winner with Jeeranan Duncan taking the top honours with an even par 36 points ahead of Dennis Steele in second on 35.

B Flight winner Pongpob Boonjun (left) receives his trophy from Andy Cole (right).B Flight winner Pongpob Boonjun (left) receives his trophy from Andy Cole (right).

With the trophy presentations completed, the football stars took time out to talk to their fellow golfers, sign autographs and pose for photos with fans as everyone partook of the free-flow beer and wine while awaiting the serving of a delicious evening dinner at the Phoenix G.C. clubhouse.

Following dinner, the soccer stars helped out with the prize draw and Peter Banner auctioned off some fabulous sporting memorabilia to help raise further funds for the Legacy of Legends key charities, namely the Mechai Foundation, Operation SMILE Thailand, Woman With a Mission, and The Camillian Social Center Rayong.

The footballers finally said their goodbyes as they were due to jet off the following day to other parts of the world to continue their ambassadorial roles for Manchester United, but for golfers and Red Devil fans here in Pattaya, it was a day most won’t forget is a long while.

Jeeranan Duncan (right), the C Flight winner, accepts her trophy from Lee Sharpe.Jeeranan Duncan (right), the C Flight winner, accepts her trophy from Lee Sharpe.

Dennis Irwin tees off on the 11th hole.Dennis Irwin tees off on the 11th hole.

Andy Cole scores on the green.Andy Cole scores on the green.

Manchester United legends Dennis Irwin, Clayton Blackmore, Lee Sharpe and Andy Cole pose on the tee at Phoenix Golf Club, Wednesday, June 12.Manchester United legends Dennis Irwin, Clayton Blackmore, Lee Sharpe and Andy Cole pose on the tee at Phoenix Golf Club, Wednesday, June 12.