x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Young golfer Dhruv Nair gifted a dream prize

The second place winner in the pro-am section of the Emirates Airline Invitational gets to play with McDowell and Fisher.

ABU DHABI // Dhruv Nair, a rising schoolboy talent, was pinching himself yesterday morning thinking a rare night out on Monday was just a dream.

Nair, 12, who has been playing golf since the age of seven, was given a glittering reward for his outstanding efforts in claiming second place in the pro-am section of the Emirates Airline Invitational at Yas Links.

After being called from his seat to collect his runners-up prize for partnering the Spanish professional Pablo Larrazabal through a better-ball round of 11-under par, the youngster was astonished to hear that an even bigger gift was coming his way.

The charity auction at the post-tournament dinner included one lot of a game of golf anywhere in the world with Graeme McDowell, the US Open champion, and Ross Fisher, another of Europe's Ryder Cup heroes last October.

That lot was sold for U$40,000 (Dh146,920) to Abdullah al Naboodah, the event host, and he immediately presented it to one of his dinner guests, David O'Leary, the manager of Al Ahli Football Club.

O'Leary swiftly declined the offer and suggested it should go instead to Nair in the hope the publicity would entice more youngsters to take up the sport.

Nair was overcome by the gesture and said he would request either the Augusta National, home of the US Masters, or St Andrews in Scotland as his destination.

Yesterday, he awoke to tell his father, Rajesh, that the trip would be to St Andrews.

"We couldn't believe what was happening," said Rajesh. "It was such a marvellous gesture."

Nair is a member of Dubai Creek club and, in the last six months, his handicap has come down from 22 to 15. His efforts at Yas Links on Monday, when he posted a lifetime-best score of 78, including an eagle on the long seventh, will trim it to 13.6.