x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Bahrain could be pit-stop to Dubai on golf map

Colin Montgomerie is pushing the golf course he has designed in Bahrain as a future European Tour venue.

Colin Montgomerie is pushing the golf course he has designed in Bahrain as a future European Tour venue and sees it as the stage for an ideal preparation tournament for the $US10m (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Championship each November. "I don't think it will be long before we have five tournaments in the Gulf region," Montgomerie said as he overlooked the driving range at the course named after him in Dubai.

"The existing three at the start of the year [Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai] have been joined by the exciting Dubai World Championship at the end of the year, so it's logical to have another one in this region leading up to it. "Let's hope in the years to come we can fit in Bahrain. That would be perfect in my view." Monty, one of Europe's most successful golfers despite never having won one of the four major championships, made no attempt to disguise his vested interest in taking his fellow professionals to Riffa Views, otherwise known as the Royal Course.

"This area is becoming a hotbed for golf and is already a global centre for other things and I expect the trend to continue. Now instead of having to go west for top golf to the United States, leading players are starting to go east. We have the richest tournament in the world here in Dubai." Riffa Views reopened under a Montgomerie redesign in November with a cosmopolitan launch party. The former US Open champions Retief Goosen, of South Africa, and New Zealand's Michael Campbell along with the new Colombian prospect Camilo Villegas made up a first-footing fourball with Montgomerie. "We had a great time," the Scot said.

Monty is as proud of his Bahrain development as he is of The Montgomerie Dubai - TMD as it has become known. "Originally it was going to be called Emirates Hills but they thought Montgomerie had a nice ring to it and I'm glad they did." He recalled the process of changing what he called a heap of stand into the 7,396-yard stretch of sporting terrain it has now become. "I was involved in the development of the course," he said. "We knew this was going to be a model to go forward."

He was brave enough to declare his dissatisfaction with the closing hole at TMD. "When I designed the 18th, the second lake in front of the green was not meant to be there," he said. "It is not just a lake it's a sea. It was meant to be a bunker. But we needed more irrigation so in went the lake." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae