Golf: Oman glows in the spotlight at NBO Oman Open
February 17, 2018 | 6:38 PM
by Times News Service
A general view of the 18th hole during the third round of the NBO Oman Open at Almouj Golf on Saturday. Photo - Supplied

Muscat: Few professions in life involve as much travel as that of a tour golfer. Week in, week out the players who ply their trade on the European Tour jet from one country to the next for different events and this season’s Race to Dubai features 46 tournaments in 29 different countries across five continents. These guys have a multitude of reference points when it comes to judging the merits of a new country that the European Tour visits and Oman has been given an overwhelming seal of approval during the inaugural NBO Oman Open at Almouj Golf in Muscat.

There is a strong chance that tourism will rise in the Sultanate due to the many plaudits about the country and its people that have been expressed by the players taking part in the prestigious tournament which is being broadcast on television screens and reported on in print and online media around the world.

This is the 11th season in succession that Pablo Larrazabal has been on the European Tour and visiting Oman is an experience he’s cherished.

“This is my first time in Oman and it reminds me of Qatar 10 years ago,” said the Spaniard. “It’s a very rich country that is trying it’s best to bring tourists in from all over the world. To have a tournament of this calibre in Oman shows you the vision of where they want to be. The weather is great and so are the people so it’s great to be able to be here.”

Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma may have missed the cut this weekend but he revealed that he’s still had a wonderful time in a country he’s never visited before.

“The Omani people have been so kind and welcoming,” he said. “I’ve loved it in Muscat and am very surprised this is the first time they’ve hosted a European Tour event here because it’s been fantastic.”

Aside from the stunning Greg Norman-designed golf course Muscat’s stunning beaches, picturesque mountains many tourist attractions have impressed the players this week, who have encouraged people to visit the country to find out for themselves.

Thomas Detry came to Oman in 2016 for the Challenge Tour’s season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final and enjoyed visiting the country but didn’t get the chance to experience the glorious sights that the country has to offer away from the course and was determined to do so this time.

“Muscat is such a beautiful place to visit,” said the Belgian. “I would definitely advise people to come and visit and look around all the beautiful sights the city has to offer.

“Oman is completely different to other Middle Eastern countries such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I really like the peacefulness about the place - it’s quite relaxing. The skyline isn’t as high as in Dubai which gives you a chance to look out across the city more.”

Adrian Otaegui, who is one of the front runners heading into the tournament’s final round on Sunday, said: “I think it’s great that the European Tour has come to Oman. I played here a few years ago with the Challenge Tour but I couldn’t really remember everything about the course and the country but I’m very pleased with it. It’s by the seaside, a lovely course and I really like the country – the people are very friendly and it’s a very nice place to come and play golf.”

It’s still all to play for in the NBO Oman Open at Almouj Golf with the inaugural champion due to be crowned on Sunday. Entry into the event is free of charge and as well as witnessing the European Tour’s finest stars in action, there is entertainment from the magnificent Golf Trick Shot Boys as well as a variety of stalls and shops to visit in the Tented Village.

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