ABU DHABI // Golf's ruling body are so keen to ensure that one of the world's top junior events continues to prosper in the face of reduced sponsorship of the game that they have invested funds in the Abu Dhabi Junior Championship. Launched in 1985 by The Daily Telegraph and now attracting annual entries of 40,000 teenagers from clubs all over Britain and Ireland, the tournament, which concluded on Sunday at the National Course, has been backed by the Royal and Ancient to the tune of £125,000 (Dh758,405).
Duncan Weir, R&A's director of golf development, travelled from his St Andrews base to the Emirates for the finals of the boys' and girls' championships and felt it is money well spent. "We were approached by the organisers and asked to put some money into the event to help them cope with the difficulties in attracting sponsorship. We decided to put in £50,000 this year, £50,000 next year and £25,000 the year after," he said.
"We made that decision for several reasons. The event had been going for many years, it has produced junior golf of the very highest calibre and there were so many famous names who had won the trophies in previous years. It just fitted what we were trying to do." Weir emphasised that the money was not provided just to help youngsters from the UK. He believes that UAE schoolchildren will enjoy spin-off benefits which included a challenge match with their visitors before the tournament got under way, a special clinic class and a place in the competition for Dubai-based Joel Neale.
"We are keen to see more golf played by more people more often in more places," added Weir. "We hope that this initiative leads to somebody from Abu Dhabi in the Open Championship in a few years' time." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org