Former Sunderland teammates and Black Cats Michael Gray and Marcus Stewart will be among the players hoping to make a winning debut when they take part in the hugely popular Footballers’ Golf Classic at Spain’s La Manga Club at the start of next month.
Ex-England left back Gray and striker Stewart, who scored more than 250 goals in 500-plus games during his career, will be part of another stellar line-up when the 23rd edition of the event is held on the Murcian resort’s famous North and South courses from June 1-6.
Joining the pair, who played together for the Black Cats between 2002-4, making their first appearances in the 54-hole Stableford competition will be ex-Stoke, Cardiff and Republic of Ireland midfielder Graham Kavanagh and former Arsenal and Brighton defender Steve Gatting – brother of ex-English cricket captain Mike Gatting.
But the quartet face stiff competition in their bid for glory, with a host of previous winners taking their place in the field led by defending champion, former Derby, Leeds and England midfielder Seth Johnson and two-time winner Steve Lovell.
Record-breaking Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings, Andy Morrison, Russell Osman, Andy Legg and Kenny Hibbitt are among the other past winners chasing further success in Spain, while other household names in the line-up will include the likes of Arsenal and Republic of Ireland legend Liam Brady, former Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’ members Lawrie Sanchez, Dave Beasant, Wally Downes and Dean Holdsworth, and ex-England stars Paul Walsh, Lee Hendrie and Steve Bull.
The 2019 Footballers’ Golf Classic will feature four days of competitive golf under sunny skies: the one-day Alan Ball Trophy and the three-day main event, with competitors playing in teams of three alongside a different footballer each day.
Entry includes five nights in the resort’s five-star Hotel Principe Felipe, breakfast, welcome and gala dinners and prize-giving with entertainment.
Set in an exclusive corner of Murcia and three times the size of Monaco, La Manga Club is regarded as a golfing Mecca by players across the world, with its extensive facilities including three 18-hole golf courses,, a nine-hole, par-47 academy course and first-class golf training centre.
The resort has been named as ‘Europe’s Best Golf Venue’ at the World Golf Awards for the last two years running and is on target for further success over the coming months having been shortlisted for a host of top international accolades, including the title of ‘Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort & Villas’ for the third year in a row at the World Travel Awards which will take place in Madeira next month.
The official overseas training base of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), La Manga Club’s extensive other facilities include a 28-court tennis centre, a recently-opened European Cricket Performance Centre and a 2,000sqm Wellness Centre. The resort is host to Spain’s only official Chelsea FC Foundation Soccer School while, in addition, it features the choice of a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments and townhouses and more than 15 bars and restaurants.