Saturday, 26 October 2013
Bill Longmuir  (EuropeanTour)
Bill Longmuir (EuropeanTour)
This week’s inaugural National Bank of Oman Golf Classic is not just one of the biggest sporting events the country has ever seen, it is also the culmination of decades of hard work and Scot golfing veteran Bill Longmuir has been there from the very beginning.

It was a fitting tribute, then, that the eight-time Senior Tour winner received a sponsor’s invite for the tournament and he took full advantage, making the weekend cut before a superb three under par third round of 69.

This event, however, is about much more than a golf tournament for Longmuir. It has been a culmination of 30 years of involvement with Oman and building the game in the region. 

It is a fascinating story of building up from foundations made of sand, quite literally.

Longmuir explains: “The link started about 30 years ago when I met Oman’s late His Highness Kais bin Tarik al-Said. I happened to meet His Highness through a horse trainer friend of mine at Newmarket race course. 

“We got on like a house on fire, he enjoyed the banter so to speak, and I got him into golf. Between myself and my friend Pip Elson, whose son Jamie is playing this week, we got him into Pro-Ams and he sponsored a few Pro-Ams in Dubai.

“Then I came over here to visit Oman around 20 years ago and at that time, the only course in Muscat was reclaimed by the Government to build a hospital and they gave them a site upon which I then designed and built a sand course called Ghallah Wentworth. 

“That was finished very quickly and all done with no budget with just volunteers. That turned out to be very successful and now it has been turned into a grass course called Gala Valley so that is brilliant.

“I wanted a grass course because there were none at that time so we started with Muscat Hills. It took over five years to build and it was quite a complicated job. Paul Thomas designed it and I helped with a couple of holes but it was Paul’s design.

“We were thrilled it and we hoped to stage a tournament there one day. It’s certainly a good contrast, very different from Almouj. 

“It’s more in line with the mountainous landscape that you can see around Muscat whereas this is more links style so they really complement each other.

“What I did notice when I came here early on was that a lot of the nationals really wanted to play.

“Unlike some other countries, the Omani nationals loved their golf and I was encouraged by that, I must admit. I have just watched it grow and grow. It’s not just an ex-pat community playing golf here, it’s really the nationals that love to come out and play and that’s what has been so good about golf out here.

“I can see now that people are talking about it more. They’re rebuilding the airport nearby and I'm sure it is going to become a big destination for golfing holiday makers. It’s certainly an attractive one and a very different experience to Dubai.”

To host such an illustrious event in Oman is something Longmuir is immensely proud of and he believes it is a fitting tribute to his deceased Omani friend.

“I am thrilled this tournament has come here and for me it is His Highness Kais bin Tarik al-Said’s legacy,” he said. “It means a lot for me to see it happen. The way it has been staged this week is wonderful.

“It’s a good chance for me too, although I'm 60 years old it’s great to play and see these young players playing. They are so strong and the standard on this tour is excellent. That has been an eye-opener for me and I'm really enjoying it.”

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Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KAKKO, RoopeFIN18-14
3IM, DanielUSA18-10
T4FORD, MattENG18-7
T4STONE, BrandonRSA18-7
T6AN, Byeong-hunKOR18-5
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