Of an exquisite stroke.
An icy autumn cold holds the Solitude Golf Club in Stuttgart in its grip as Kim Seung Je from Seoul stands at the tee of the tenth hole. The Korean rubs his clammy hands together, bends over and drops a few loose blades of grass to gauge the direction of the breeze. He puts the wood on the ground in front of him and squeezes his left eye shut. “Not easy”, he says softly, takes another practice swing and hits the ball off the pin with an almost perfect stroke. His French opponent follows the trajectory of the ball closely. “Good shot”, he comments and nods his head clearly impressed. The players’ intense focus is almost palpable as they pat each other on the back in appreciation. The golfers arrived in Stuttgart in late September from all over the world to play a tournament that is beyond comparison. The 24th edition of the MercedesTrophy World Final was played here from 26 September to 1 October 2013.
Green for togetherness.
A visit to the golf course offered some extraordinary sights: men and women of widely different age groups and nationalities met on the green. Out of a total of 60,000 competitors from 60 countries 99 golfers qualified for the world final to win the shiny silver challenge cup. “I will never forget this tournament”, says Jonas Madsen from Denmark, who finished first in the overall standings with 72 points. “My success doesn’t matter at all. The opportunity to be able to play here was much more important, meeting so many interesting people from all over the world, having fun together with them and learning from them.”
The Laureus ambassadors also did their part.
Even off the green the event offered an extraordinary programme. It began on Friday with the Mercedes-Benz Day that included a visit to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen, the AMG plant in Affalterbach and a guided tour of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. One of the highlights on Sunday was the visit by the emperor of German football, Franz Beckenbauer, and tennis legend Boris Becker. Together with members of the Laureus Academy the two former athletes served as sponsors of the “Beat the Laureus Ambassadors” special award. “They played well too”, said Nicolai Kipling, at age 19 the youngest competitor in the tournament.
Boris Becker stood at the tee and Franz Beckenbauer played the entire round – for a good cause: the money donated by the players here – together with the donations of the MercedesTrophy World Final qualifying tournaments held all over the world – benefited the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Once in a lifetime.
The awards ceremony presented a picture of a large international family: the erstwhile competitors posed arm in arm for photo memories and cheered the winners of the Nations Cup from South Africa as if all 33 teams had been victorious.
In addition to the major Nations Cup there were several special awards to be won: among them a trip to The Open Championship in Great Britain to qualify for one of eight Monday-After spots – a dream that Fred Walters from Canada was able to make come true for himself. 'You only do something like this once in a lifetime!', said the winner laughing.