The European Challenge Tour event will be the first professional golf tournament to be staged in Oman and the first Challenge Tour event to be played in the GCC.
The Challenge Tour’s motto is ‘Where Heroes are Made’ and the international stars of the future will be demonstrating their skills in one of the most competitive events of the Tour’s season.
Major winners like Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, Trevor Immelman, Justin Rose and Michael Campbell learned their trade on the Challenge Tour along with many of today’s European Tour players, including Ryder Cup stars like Ian Poulter, Thomas Björn, Nicolas Colsaerts and Henrik Stenson, who topped the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2000 and is now leading The European Tour Race to Dubai and, after topping the FedExCup Points Ranking, is now fourth in the Official Golf World Ranking.
The Challenge Tour field is headed by two-times winner this season, Andrea Pavan. The 24-year-old Italian is looking forward to taking on the Greg Norman course at Almouj Golf The Wave, Muscat.
“The closing tournaments of the season are big events and are very important for me. If I can win a third title I will gain my card for The European Tour but I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m playing well at the moment but performing well in these big tournaments is part of the learning process and I know the pressure will be on in Oman and Dubai.”
The top of the Challenge Tour Ranking is a cosmopolitan affair with two-times winners François Calmels of France and Dutchman Daan Huizing; Spain’s Adrian Otaegui; Sweden’s Johan Carlsson and Jose-Filipe Lima from Portugal all hot on the heels of leader Pavan.
The Shangri-La is a world renowned resort and General Manager, Mark Kirk, is delighted to be closely connected with the tournament, commenting: “With the three grassed courses currently operational in Oman and the fourth on the way, it’s a great honour to be involved in Oman’s first major international event, which will certainly help promote golf tourism in the Sultanate.
“Oman is a world class destination for tourism, and golf adds to the attraction of the country. Any international event benefits the industry and assists in publicising the destination. With three golf courses open it’s already becoming known as a golf destination and we have many guests at the Shangri-La who play all three golf courses. I expect in the future we will have many more.”
Hassan Shaban, a Deputy General Manager at the National Bank of Oman, commented: “We find it very gratifying that our National Bank of Oman Golf Classic has gained the support of such Premium Sponsors as the world renowned Shangri-la Resort. The corporate community have committed their support to the tournament and we are delighted to have such prestigious sponsors for the first professional golf event in Oman.”
Mark Kirk continued: “As catering partner for the event we were pleased to become a sponsor of the tournament. Our sponsorship is to support tourism and golf in Oman. Certainly having a Shangri-la resort in Oman benefits the reputation of tourism in the Sultanate.
“I’m sure the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will be the start of many more international tournaments here. We already have some very good Omani amateur golfers, like Azaan Al Rumhy, and I’m sure that this tournament will promote the game further. Who knows, maybe Oman will produce players winning professional Tour events in the future.”