x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Goosen joins line-up for Pro-Am at Yas Links Golf Club

Retief Goosen will join world No 1 Lee Westwood, and current US Open champion Graeme McDowell at the Emirates Airline Invitational at the Yas Links Golf Club.

ABU DHABI // The two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen will join world No 1 Lee Westwood, and current US Open champion Graeme McDowell at the Emirates Airline Invitational at the Yas Links Golf Club on Monday, organisers announced yesterday.

The one-day charity gala, previously known as the Abdullah al Naboodah Invitational, bills itself as the world's leading Pro-Am event and will feature 52 professionals who will link up with an equal number of amateurs to test the new golf course built across the road from Ferrari World.

Among the amateurs expected to test the region's first links-style course are former footballers Ruud Gullit, Jamie Redknapp and David O'Leary, as well as retired English cricketers Michael Vaughan and Allan Lamb.

The Invitational moves to Abu Dhabi after four years in Dubai, two at the Four Seasons course and two at Dubai Creek. 

"When I came here, I thought, 'This is the right place'," said al Naboodah, the tournament host as well as the chairman of the Al Ahli football club. "I loved the sea around us and the mangroves, and the whole setting is brilliant. The other thing special about it is the wind. With this flat sea, with the shamal winds, it's very tricky to handle this golf course with high winds."

He added with a smile: "I hope we have high winds on Monday that keep the players from getting course records."

Al Naboodah teamed with Westwood to win the event last year, and will be paired with the Englishman again. "As defending champions, I thought we need to defend our title," al Naboodah said.

Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and the rising Italian youngster Matteo Manassero also were named to the professional field yesterday, joining a list which includes Ross Fisher, Stephen Gallacher, Peter Hanson and Thongchai Jaidee.

The event this year is taking on Emirates as a title sponsor. Nadim Lahad, Emirates manager for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, said: "This event is renown for attracting a world-class field with leading golfers and celebrities. It already has a reputation as one of the most prestigious in the world, and we look forward to taking it further."

The prize purse for pros is US$500,000 (Dh1.8m). The four highest-finishing pros will donate half their winnings, $150,000 in total, to charities of their choice.