x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Colin Montgomerie pleased to be a part of Saadiyat Beach Classic

The Ryder Cup winning captain is among the many professionals who will team up with amateurs for Gary Player's Saadiyat Beach Classic to help raise money for various charities.

Colin Montgomerie says golf is the one sport where amateurs can actually play alongside the word’s best professionals.
Colin Montgomerie says golf is the one sport where amateurs can actually play alongside the word’s best professionals.

ABU DHABI // Gary Player, one of golf's legendary figures, anticipates raising another Dh1million-plus for underprivileged children today at the Saadiyat Beach Classic.

Player's inaugural event last year raised Dh1.2m for various charities and the South African has assembled another field of famous faces with a view to surpassing that figure.

Top golfers will combine with leading figures from other sports to lead teams of four in a scramble competition over the new course which Player, a renowned golf architect, designed on Saadiyat Island.

Colin Montgomerie, Europe's winning Ryder Cup captain, is one of the leading professionals in the field, along with Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Matteo Manassero and Thomas Bjorn.

Montgomerie appreciates the value of such events in his desire to give back some of what he has taken during two decades at the top of his profession.

"Golf is one of the only sports that amateurs can actually play alongside the world's best professionals," he said.

"It is also played at a pace that allows a large amount of chatting and you really get the chance to get to know your playing partners over a five-hour round. I can't think of another sport where this happens as easily and amateurs can have such a great day out.

"I really enjoy playing in golf days that support important causes like the Saadiyat Beach Classic and am very much looking forward to the day and hope I am able to contribute to raising money for this very worthy cause."

The Scot, who has topped Europe's money list eight times during his career, is happy to support any charity but is particularly focused on raising money to help lung cancer sufferers.

"In January 1991 I lost my mother, Elizabeth, to lung cancer," he said. "During this difficult time, I became aware of the devastating effect that cancer can have on the patient, their carers and families. With this in mind, I set up the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation with the aim of raising funds to provide information and support to those affected by cancer."

Bjorn, the highly experienced Danish player who is a former winner of the Dubai Desert Classic, is also a seasoned campaigner in golfing fund-raisers.

"The European Tour players support many charities throughout the year and many of the players have causes very personal to them that we all want to support and get behind," he said.

"There are so many ways to raise money with golf from hole-in-one prizes to charity auctions - it is a really enjoyable way to raise money for important causes."

"I think the Saadiyat Beach Classic should be a great success and all the players participating will be working hard to ensure everyone has a great day. I think it is especially nice to be part of a fund-raising effort to support children's charities."

Gavin Hastings, the former Scotland and British & Irish Lions rugby union captain, will be one of the celebrity part-time golfers on view.

Hastings, a four-handicap golfer, said: "I played in this event last year and it was amazing. I'm sure others who experienced it are equally keen to take part again.

"Gary Player has an amazing presence for someone of advancing years. He is driven to make this a successful venture for those involve and the needy causes are going to benefit.

"I think the opportunity to play golf in the company of some of the world's best players is often irresistible to those who take part. There are not many sports that a member of the public can play alongside the best players on the planet on a level playing field.

"It would not be possible for someone to come in and play against the likes of me at Murrayfield or play tennis against somebody like Tim Henman. That is the case with most other sports but golf is such an appealing exception."