Shermanator takes Valderrama by storm



Paul Sherman (Ashford) warmed up nicely for the finals of the Golfplan Insurance PGA Pro-Captain Challenge by claiming victory in the three round, three courses Golf Escapes PGA in England (South) Andalusian Overseas Pro-Am with a four-over-par 219.

Taking the £800 top prize with rounds of 72, 74 and 73 at Marbella Club Resort, Valderrama and Finca Cortesin respectively, Sherman pushed fellow Kent star and Titleist PGA Play-Offs contender Matt Ford’s total of 220 into second place.

Sherman’s three-round performance was even more impressive as he’d never played any of the three courses, some of the very best in Europe.

Sherman raved about the design and condition of all three. “Marbella was beautiful,” he said, “very hilly with some spectacular views from several of the tees, with drops of 60-70 yards down to the fairways. I played really well there, and enjoyed my first round ever at this highly rated club.”

On to Valderrama, a world famous destination steeped in Ryder Cup history with one of the most televised of holes, the terrifying 17th.

Sherman singled out Valderrama for his highest praise, adding: “It was my first time here as well, and it lived up to my expectations of a unique golfing experience. I’ve seen it many times on TV, but standing there over that shot to the 17th green is one of those ‘must do before I die’ kind of golfing experiences!”

He continued, “The standards of course preparation and presentation are such that you never saw any divots, and even the approaches were like most club’s greens! When you were on the greens, that phrase ‘marble staircases’ sounds OTT but it’s true. I’ve played on a lot of fast greens but nothing compares to these - and this was in November!”

Sadly, Sherman bunkered his drive on the 17th and eventually left himself a 200-yard shot with a three-iron to the green which proved a couple of yards short and went in the water. “You could say I had the full Valderrama experience!” he commented, “But the unbelievable speed of the greens meant the scoring for the round at Valderrama was pretty high.”

Leading the field, Sherman went to the last round at Finca Cortesin, a young course that had recently hosted the Volvo World Match Play Championship. Sherman was two-under-par with three to go, but blind-sided a shot to the short 16th for a double bogey and compounded his error by dropping another shot on the next hole.

“It was annoying,” he said, “and one of my only poor shots at the wrong time, but Finca Cortesin’s rough is scrub and bushes, and missing the target means severe punishment. But birdieing the last was a great way to finish, and proved to be my winning hole.”

Besides Valderrama and Finca Cortesin, next year’s Golf Escapes PGA South Andalusian Overseas Pro-Am will be going to Sotogrande’s La Reserva which Sherman rates as even better. “On a trio of courses as good as these, this particular Pro-Am is a must for me every year,” he said, “and I’ll definitely be taking a team from my new club Langley Park for 2014!”

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