x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Colin Montgomerie confident Bahrain event will tee off

The former Ryder Cup captain says the F1 race will provide indicator, while the Scot is happy Emiratis are taking up the game on courses he has designed.

Colin Montgomerie, delivering a shot at 15 in the Volvo Champions in Bahrain in January, says the tournament should be in no danger of being dropped in 2012 because of recent unrest in the country.
Colin Montgomerie, delivering a shot at 15 in the Volvo Champions in Bahrain in January, says the tournament should be in no danger of being dropped in 2012 because of recent unrest in the country.

DUBAI // Colin Montgomerie is confident the unrest in Bahrain will not scupper the country's chances of hosting their second European Tour event next year.

Bahrain is the most recent stop on the European Tour's Desert Swing, which includes tournaments in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar.

The country hosted their first championship in January, at the course in Riffa designed by Montgomerie, the former Ryder Cup captain. The subsequent unrest forced the postponement of the season-opening Formula One grand prix last month.

The Federation Internationale Automobile (FIA), the sport's governing body, has given Bahrain until May 1 to decide if a new date can be set for the race towards the end of the season. Montgomerie believes if the F1 grand prix takes place, there is no reason for the European Tour to shelve their season-opening event next year.

"In my career of 20-odd years, we have only missed one tournament through conflict, and that was in 1991 when the Dubai Desert Classic wasn't held for obvious reasons [the Gulf War]," he said at the KPMG Golf Business Forum in Dubai yesterday.

"We have a potential issue here in Bahrain coming up.

"I think the situation will ease and is easing, and I think, come the [Formula One] grand prix time, which is about four months ahead of our tournament, I think you will find the grand prix will go off without any incident at all.

"So I don't feel there is any issue at this stage. Obviously, we have to wait and see.

"Of course, I can't say yea or nay, but at this stage it seems positive that F1 grand prix will take place. If that takes place, I think we will be OK to go and I don't find any reasons why not to.

"I travel there and I have always felt, personally, very safe there."

Bahrain staged their first European Tour event at one of 11 courses designed worldwide by the Scotsman. His first course was the one in Dubai and he is proud to see Emirati golfers learning the game on the range.

"Montgomerie Dubai was my first course that opened and it was 10 years ago now, 2001," he said.

"It has been a fantastic model for me, and it has worked very well.

"It has given me the opportunity to design more and given me opportunity to see local talent play. It was very interesting.

"The other day, I was sitting at the Montgomerie Dubai and I was watching the range and it's changed, the demographics. Now, there are a number of Emiratis actually playing golf.

"I could leave that evening thinking, 'right, this is great for the game'.

"You have local participation here on a course that carries my name. Fantastic.

"If I can give an opportunity for others to play the game, I think that will be my golf legacy."

arizvi@thenational.ae