x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

McIlroy leads the field as pro-am opens the course

The new Saadiyat Beach Golf Club course, designed by Gary Player, will be put to the test by a field led by the Dubai Desert Classic winner.

Abu Dhabi // A field of professional golfers and other sporting celebrities will compete in a charity pro-am tournament to mark the opening of the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Thursday. Organisers yesterday confirmed the line-up and with many of the players scheduled to compete in Doha at the Qatar Open they have mixed things up by including both male and female competitors in the field.

Tourism Investment Development Company (TIDC) confirmed that the new course, designed by Gary Player, will be put to the test by a field led by the Dubai Desert Classic winner Rory McIlroy. He will be joined by Darren Clarke as well as Scotland's Sam Torrance. Also confirmed are England's Melissa Reid, Catriona Matthews of Scotland and the Russian Maria Verchenova, who will represent the women's game.

TIDC executive director Alan Gordon said yesterday: "They are not only good players but supporters of charity." Five charities are due to benefit from the event. Player is also taking part as are fellow former professionals Peter Mitchell and Constantino Rocca. The retired Scotland rugby player Gavin Hastings and the South African forward Victor Matfield are also participating. "We tried to differ nationalities," added Gordon. "We've had a great designer in Gary, he's really put his heart and soul into this.

"The course is challenging and has been designed to stretch players, but also to be enjoyed." While the tournament officially opens the course, the main clubhouse will not open for another two years, with designs being announced tomorrow. @Email:sports@thenational.ae