Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Lee Westwood, right, and his caddy Billy Foster discuss a shot during the weekend at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Lee Westwood, right, and his caddy Billy Foster discuss a shot during the weekend at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
Lee Westwood, right, and his caddy Billy Foster discuss a shot during the weekend at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Pro-am is dreaming of Tour status

The organisers of today's fourth Al Naboodah Invitational say expanding the Emirates' range of tournaments is inevitable.

DUBAI // Despite a hat-trick of European Tour events, including the season-ending Dubai World Championship, already being staged on UAE courses every year, the organisers of today's fourth Al Naboodah Invitational say expanding the Emirates' range of tournaments is inevitable. In its largest staging to date, this year's Invitational sees more than 40 European Tour professionals, including the continent's No 1 golfer Lee Westwood, reigning Dubai Desert Classic champion Rory McIllroy and the Spaniard Sergio Garcia, tee-off alongside local corporate partners of the Emirati business and golf fanatic Abdullah al Naboodah - the tournament creator.

Novelty, however, is far from the principal objective of what is now the region's leading stand alone pro-am event. The goal is to evolve into a 72-hole Middle East version of golf's two other pro-am mainstays: the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links and US PGA Tour's Pebble Beach National. "We're looking to progress to official Tour status within three to five years," said James Bowring, Al Naboodah's director of golf.

"We believe it can. Tournaments are increasingly looking for ways to give back to their sponsors and our format, which is similar to the Dunhill Links event, does that. People want to be involved and savour the full experience." Persuading the European Tour's schedulers to include another regional date to a calendar that already takes in early-season rounds in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, should not, believes Bowring, prove too difficult in the long term.

"We'd look to position the Invitational at a different time of the year, away from the Desert Swing - there's too much going on with those three events already," he said. "But there is no reason why the Invitational cannot become an event, like Dunhill Links or Pebble Beach, in its own right. "We can be the regional equivalent of those tournaments. "The European Tour are very interested, as they see the region as a progressive and developing part of the world."

While the Invitational's evolution rumbles on, Bowring maintains that the desire shown by some of Europe's leading players to help turn the event into a globally-renowned pro-am, indicates their approval of another UAE test. "Pre-tournament pro-ams, which are not competitive, are not always enjoyed by professionals," said Bowring. "And yet we have guys wanting to play ours. "Next year we'll be a two-day warm-up event before the Abu Dhabi Championship and we're aiming to become a four-day tournament where the pros can play in an official Tour-sanctioned event in coming years."

emegson@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 Yuzvendra Chahal, centre, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates celebrate after the bowlers set up an easy win over Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National

Bowlers set up Bangalore as Patel stand tall over Mumbai

Mumbai bowlers gave early hope but Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers' unbeaten stand of 99 ensures second defeat for the men in blue in Dubai.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National