x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Dubai's big money a magnet

Golf and business seem to come together in professional harmony at tournaments like the Barclays Scottish Open.

Graeme McDowell hits an approach shot at Loch Lomond.
Graeme McDowell hits an approach shot at Loch Lomond.

LOCH LOMOND // Golf and business seem to come together in professional harmony at tournaments like the Barclays Scottish Open. There remains a unique flurry of activity that occurs outside of the ropes of this bushy event. As the players began easing their way along the edges of Loch Lomond yesterday morning for their opening rounds, a few of the figures who oversee this sport's development were busy announcing new objectives.

George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European Tour, spoke alongside the executive chairman of the Asian Tour, Kyi Hla Han, to announce the strengthening of existing ties between their organisations. The term European is slightly misleading when one thinks of golf. The old European's Order of Merit has been rebranded the Race to Dubai. It will conclude in the Middle East in November with the Dubai World Championship, a tournament that is the richest in the sport with a sweltering prize fund of US$10million (Dh368m).

Graeme McDowell is the defending Scottish Open champion. He seems to be defending his title with some honour. After shooting an opening round one-under 70 yesterday, he said that the Race to Dubai is something that is on his mind. It is little wonder with more than $1.5m coming the way of the winner of the Dubai World Championship . "I've got one eye on the end of the season," said McDowell. "This year hasn't been anything special, but my game is not too far away. I just have to keep plugging away so I'm in the Dubai tournament.

"All the players love Dubai. We love going out there, because it is an exciting city. We always get well looked after, and these are some great events coming up over there." Golf, as they say, is a money sport, and it does not appear to be suffering a credit-crunch downturn with a combined prize fund of more than £7m (Dh42.7m) propping up this event and the British Open at Turnberry next week. European golf already encompasses destinations such as Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong, which are all in Asia and host events in conjunction with the European Tour. Golf's selling point remains in its players.

The competitors have a duty to abide by etiquette, but more so to entertain. In these times of economic hardship, entertainment in golf does not come cheaply. It is worth noting that it is £30 for a day ticket to the Scottish Open, or £400 if you want to sit with the members and assorted beautiful people. @Email:dkane@thenational.ae