Former Chelsea icon Gianfranco Zola proved he’s just as home on the golf course as the football pitch when he outshone a host of other famous celebrities to win the Costa Smeralda Invitational at Pevero Golf Club in Sardinia today.
Overseen by European Ryder Cup captain and tournament host Darren Clarke – who’ll lead his team into battle against the U.S. in just three months’ time – Zola scored an impressive 36 points over the challenging but stunning layout at Pevero Golf Club.
Edging out last year’s Costa Smeralda Invitational winner Kapil Dev by just two points, the four-handicapper justified the value in practice and local knowledge after playing 36 holes at the same venue just yesterday.
“It was a massive pleasure to play in the Costa Smeralda Invitational because it is such a beautiful place and I was born here,” said Zola, who also played in the event last year. “I was surrounded by a lot of brilliant people and we had a lot of fun, but importantly it’s hopefully going to help a lot of people by raising money for a great charity.”
Prior to his round, 49-year-old Zola met up with 2011 Open Champion Clarke, who gave the former West Ham manager some insight into handling the blustery conditions in Sardinia today.
There was fierce competition right across the men’s celebrity competition, with Zola being challenged by fellow Italian legends Alessandro Del Piero and Roberto Di Matteo, Ukrainian top goalscorer Shevchenko, DJ Jamie Theakston and actor James Nesbitt. All money generated from the Costa Smeralda Invitational and its guests will go to the Road to Awareness campaign in aid of UNICEF.
Meanwhile, the women’s competition was won by former French tennis player Sandrine Testud, who drew inspiration from Ladies European Tour players Emma Cabrera-Bello and Amy Boulden on the practice range. Cabrera-Bello was praised for her humour – as well as golfing expertise – by winning the ‘Selfie of the Tournament’, whilst Amy Boulden graced the field with an exhibition of consistently long driving.
Every player competing at the Costa Smeralda Invitational was treated to an interactive clinic from Clarke on the practice range, before taking on the Northern Irishman in a ‘Beat The Pro’ contest on the spectacular 10th hole. The celebrities also took part in a number of other fun challenges across the course, whilst an exclusive partner’s programme, including spa treatments and winery tour was also on offer.
The guests will this evening attend a glitzy Gala Dinner at the Hotel Cala Di Volpe, where more money will be raised for the Costa Smeralda official charity partner.
Last year’s Costa Smeralda – hosted by Justin Rose – raised over £100,000 for the children’s charities Autism Rocks and Road to Awareness in aid of UNICEF. This year the Costa Smeralda Invitational is proud to support the Road to Awareness campaign in aid of UNICEF, with all money raised going towards UNICEF’s vital water, sanitation and hygiene programmes.