By: Ruth Sharpe
RYDER CUP star Darren Clarke is to be the touring professional for the five Vilamoura golf courses following confirmation on Thursday that Lusotur Golfes has been bought by The Oceânico Group in a deal believed to be worth 125 million euros.
The sale was announced at a packed press conference at the Victoria Golf Club, Vilamoura, the location of the Portugal Masters for the next three years.
Oceânico Group owners Gerry Fagan and Simon Burgess said they had completed the process of acquiring Lusotur Golfes SA, from André Jordon and his family on February 28.
Darren Clarke, who was at the press conference, will represent the group and carry the logo on his European and PGA Tour bag. He will be playing in the Portugal Masters for the next three years.
With the purchase of the five courses, the Oceânico Group has become Europe’s largest golf course operator. Fagan said: “We are delighted to become the owners of these five golf courses and the core of what is considered the EU’s premier golf destination.”
Oceânico will be opening two more courses at the Amendoeira Golf Resort in Silves next year — The Faldo and O’ Connor Course. With these seven courses, as well as three more in the Azores and Óbidos the company is now worth nearly two hundred million euros.
“We hope to create a model that can compete with the best worldwide,” Fagan said.
The Irishman paid tribute to André Jordan, speaking of his respect and admiration for his achievements in the Algarve. “A large part of the work here is complete, he has been the main driver of tourism and development for the past four decades.”
It was also announced that Oceânico had bought a 170 hectare development, the Vilamoura Golf and Garden Resort, and once the planning application is accepted, 700 residential units will be constructed. Purchasers will have the right to play golf on the seven courses, all of which now go under the name of Oceânico Golf.
Fagan also welcomed Bruce Glasco and Paul Dellanzo from the Arizona-based company Troon Golf. Considered to be the world leader in golf course management, Troon Golf will be managing nine out of the 10 Oceânico courses.
Clarke said he was privileged and proud to represent Oceânico and joked: “I will be as nice as I can and sell as many properties for you as possible.” Speaking after Fagan, André Jordon said: “We have carried the Vilamoura torch with pride for 12 years. We pass it on to new and bigger things in a wider context, with the hope of seeing Vilamoura become a prime world destination.”
Darren Clarke told The Resident about his commitments with Oceânico, saying in addition to wearing the logo, he will spend a specific number of days per year at Oceânico events and play a role in persuading other golfers to play at their courses.
He said he would like to be involved in designing a course for Oceânico in the future if the opportunity arose and will also be buying a house on the development.
He hopes the deal will give him the opportunity to spend more time in the Algarve, but pointed out that he has the commitment of looking after two sons and balancing his time with his other properties in South Africa, the US and Ireland.
When asked what he considered the best course in the Algarve, he laughed saying: “I’ll ignore that question,” before deciding Penina was closest to his heart, “it’s a great course” and one he warmed to when he first began playing in the Algarve as an 18-year-old.
During his trip, Darren was also involved in shooting a commercial for the new Oceânico apartments. The commercial will be aired on British day time television as well as on all Irish channels.
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