x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

European Tour event to stay put

The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, which concluded with the closest finish in the event's five-year history last week, is to stay at its original venue next year.

ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, which concluded with the closest finish in the event's five-year history last week, is to stay at its original venue next year. The National Course, which proved a splendid battleground for Martin Kaymer to overcome Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy in a tight finish, had been expected to give way next year to the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach course, which was used for the first time last week.

Indeed, Faisal al Sheikh, head of the major events committee of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), who organise the annual event, suggested it was a formality for 2011. He said at the official launch of this year's tournament: "When you are in the process of hosting a top international event you try to showcase the best golf courses that you have. We are glad to have the National course here in Abu Dhabi but when you talk about a golf course designed by Gary Player next to the Gulf ocean then it is bound to be something spectacular.

"Abu Dhabi Golf Club is a mature club that has been established for 10 years and has proved to be an excellent venue for a European Tour event. The new clubs being constructed nearby will be another milestone in the history of golf in this emirate. As soon as those courses are ready to host this kind of tournament, believe me we will shift it immediately." The desire to allow the new Saadiyat course time to mature is understood to be the reason for the change of plan. Greg Sproule, a member of the Championship Committee, said: "Not only do the players continue to be most complimentary of the course itself, but our spectators, corporate hospitality guests and media partners have embraced the Championship's home at Abu Dhabi Golf Club as well."

wjohnson@thenational.ae