|Fans learning tricks of the trade in Almouj|
|There has been plenty to keep golf fans busy off the course at this week’s superb National Bank of Oman Golf Classic and one of the more entertaining aspects has been the presence of experienced and hugely enjoyable trick-shot expert Dave Edwards (@trickgolfshow on Twitter).
The Englishman, who travels the world with his hilarious show, has been wowing the crowds this week, striking shots with his hugely over-sized golf clubs, performing various other physics-defying shots and producing a side-splittingly accurate impersonation of the great Miguel Angel Jiménez.
A group of school kids from the local Sultanate School in Muscat came along on Thursday to see the magic unfold for themselves and Edwards even took some time to give them some free golf lessons in order to help introduce them to the game.
But it’s not just the novices who are enjoying the show.
|Andrea Pavan, the Challenge Tour Rankings leader, and Nicolo Ravano, straight from his leaderboard-topping exploits out on the course on day one, went along to watch and Pavan got an even closer view of the action when he was asked to lie down and place a tee between his teeth so Edwards could hit a shot from close quarters.
Perhaps mindful that a leading professional golfer needs to be in the fullest of health every day while also aware they require a full set of teeth with which to smile for photographs if they do win, Edwards wisely swapped Pavan for his caddie and proceeded to pull off the hazardous trick with aplomb.
It was great fun for all. Well, maybe not for Pavan’s caddie!
|NBO creates a Classic worthy of billing|
|As befitting an event of this stature, the penultimate tournament of the European Challenge Tour season, organisers of the inaugural National Bank of Oman Golf Classic have pulled out all the stops this week in creating an incredible venue and set-up.
The cream of the Challenge Tour crop have been met with a Greg Norman-designed course that speaks for itself –although the players are speaking plenty too,
|The VIP tent at the NBO Golf Classic|
|many saying it is one of the best they have ever played – but everything else screams European Tour-standard event and the players are loving it.From the spectacular stage structure at the 18th and lavish VIP Area and Players’ Lounge – all provided by tournament sponsors Wicked Tents - to the superb range, where each player is met with a meticulously prepared triangle of balls, every whim is catered for.
It is a credit to National Bank of Oman and their on-site team led by Sean Paul Shanor, that one of the biggest sporting events ever to be held in this country is living up to such a momentous billing.
Now it is up for our Challenge Tour stars to emulate such quality and hard work and of that, there is certainly no doubt.
|Hot, hot heat|
|The long and adventurous travails of the European Challenge Tour bring our professionals to many corners of the earth and to widely varying climes, from the early-season sun in India and Kenya, through the soggy Sundays in Scotland and Switzerland and to many other weather fronts in between.|
And so the players are rewarded for their efforts in the final stretch of the season.
Sometimes the weather can throw up some surprises, but this week is looking like a breeze of a job for our Challenge Tour forecasters (that may be the only reference to the word ‘breeze’ all week, we might add).
The sun has been out all week and it is showing no signs of fading, although
|with temperatures consistently above 30 degrees Celsius for the whole day, some are struggling a little bit to cope.Still, there certainly won’t be any complaints from this end…
|Birthday boys put champagne on ice|
|We had two birthdays at the beginning of the week for two of our Challenge Tour stars, with Englishman Adam Gee celebrating his 33rd Birthday on Monday and young Dutch prospect Daan Huizing blowing 23 candles out on the same day.|
|There are certainly worse places to be to celebrate but the champagne will no doubt be put on ice for the two hopefuls in Oman with plenty at stake, especially for Gee, who lies in 39th position in the Rankings and is in need of a strong finish this week to keep his hopes of being in the Grand Final in his own hands.
A big finish for the Londoner, meanwhile, could secure his path to The European Tour.
No such stress for Huizing, a two-time winner on the tour this year, as he is sure of a place on The 2014 Race to Dubai and while he has dismissed any talk of a final chase to be Challenge Tour Number One at the season’s end, it is no doubt lingering there somewhere in the depths of his mind.
What a Birthday present it would be though, to secure a third victory and automatic promotion to The European Tour.
|Who knows.||Daan Huizing celebrates his Birthday in Oman|
|After all, the Challenge Tour is not just a place ‘Where Heroes Are Made’, it is also where dreams are made.|