World Number Three and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will play in the 2016 Abu Dhabi Invitational, the annual European Tour-sanctioned Pro-Am event for business leaders, sports celebrities and the GCC’s leading amateur golfers which returns to Yas Links on Yas Island from January 30-31.
“This is great news, Rory has true star appeal and is known for his commitment to charity fundraising which is a key aim of this event. His presence will be a major draw for sponsors and supporters,” said His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), which owns he European Tour-sanctioned event.
“Rory has got us off to a great start and we will be announcing the participation of other major golfing stars and celebrities within the coming two weeks.”
The event comprises a full-day amateur championship of an individual stableford format, as well as a betterball pairs stableford with invited sponsor and stakeholder guests, followed the next day by the main Invitational, this year on Sunday January 31, when 58 professionals partner an amateur VIP to play for a share of AED 1 million prize fund while the amateurs play for glory.
Last year, the Invitational was won by South African Darren Fichardt who joined the tournament’s winners’ roll call which boasts European Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, Scotland’s Steven Gallacher, South Africa’s Retief Goosen and England’s Lee Westwood.
The tournament was founded in 2007 by Abdullah Al Naboodah and hosted alongside Mohamed Farooq since 2014.
“The founders continue to support this event which benefits charity and which these year will raise funds for the Emirates Red Crescent,” said Al Awani.
“Appreciation goes to both Abdullah and Mohamed for giving the event such a strong foundation on which we now hope to build the world’s most popular and prestigious Pro-Am tournament and continue to promote Abu Dhabi as a leading international golf, business and entertainment destination.”
Yas Links, on Abu Dhabi’s entertainment destination of Yas Island, has a hard-earned reputation as a fantastic test for amateurs and professionals alike which Mohammed Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral, Yas Island’s asset management company, believes stands it in good stead to host the Invitational.
“The event allows us to promote the fantastic Yas Links golf course, alongside Yas Island’s global entertainment and hospitality facilities, to an international and influential audience,” he said.
An Invitational highlight will be a red-carpet Gala Dinner at the stunning Yas Marina Circuit, home to the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on January 31st, where the tournament raises money for the Emirates Red Crescent’s international humanitarian work via a live auction of celebrity memorabilia.
For 2016, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council has chosen the Emirates Red Crescent to help fundraise for the charity’s international humanitarian work.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of The European Tour, reiterated the importance of the event’s charitable role, saying: "We are delighted to see the Abu Dhabi Invitational return to Yas Links. The Abu Dhabi Sports Council is an important partner for The European Tour, and The Invitational is a great event for our Members, especially given the support it gives to the region’s charities such as the UAE Red Crescent.”
The Abu Dhabi Invitational 2016, which is free to attend for spectators, is sponsored by Links Insurance, Miral Asset Management and GEMS Education. It will be broadcast worldwide by European Tour Productions and promoted via a series of media partners including Abu Dhabi Media Company, CEO Magazine, Esquire Magazine, Golf Digest and Sport 360. The tournament is managed on ADSC’s behalf by Professional Sports Group.