Muscat: The historic first edition of the NBO Oman Open was inaugurated in a style befitting of an event of such importance when Minister of Sport Affairs Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed Al Mardhouf Al Saadi hit a ceremonial tee shot off the first tee at Almouj Golf here on Tuesday.
The event marks the first European Tour event Oman has hosted in its history with some of the world’s best golfers gathering in Muscat to compete for a $1.75 million prize fund.
Among the field, which features players from 30 different countries, are Ryder Cup stars including Robert Karlsson, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood and Stephen Gallagher along with former Open Champions and Paul Lawrie and Darren Clarke, 2016 Open de Espana winner Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters champion Jeunghun Wang.
Almouj Golf first hosted a National Bank of Oman-sponsored event on the European Challenge Tour in 2013 which became the tour’s season-ending grand final in 2015 and ran for three highly successful years before gaining a further promotion onto the elite European Tour this year with a showpiece tournament that will be broadcast globally to a household reach of over 400 million, providing the perfect platform to showcase the country’s many attributes.
Sayyida Rawan bint Ahmed Al Said, Chairperson of NBO, said: “Five years ago we started an incredible journey through our relationship with the European Tour with a vision to one day host a European Tour golf tournament through which we can position Oman on the international stage.
“Now, today we are here and it is a very proud moment to inaugurate the NBO Oman Open as one of the highest-level golfing competitions globally, watched by millions of people around the world.
“To us, golf represents much more than just a game; it is a platform that brings us all together, and helps drive Oman forward by showcasing to the rest of the world the natural beauty and talent Oman has to offer.”
Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, who won the 2015 NBO Golf Classic Grand Final at Almouj Golf to earn promotion to the European Tour after topping the Road to Oman Rankings and is among the field this week, said: “It’s lovely to be back here in Muscat. I have great memories here winning in 2015 and I just love the course which I feel has deserved a European Tour event. That has finally happened with the NBO Oman Open and I’m sure it will be a huge success.”
Also present at the inaugural ceremony were Minister of Oil & Gas Mohammed bin Hammad Al Rumhy, a keen golfer who also hit an impressive tee shot at the inauguration, and National Bank of Oman CEO Ahmed Al Musalmi and the chairperson who participated in the official opening ceremony before being taken on a tour of the facilities which concluded with a visit to the par 3 course where a group of talented Omani junior players hit shots alongside the pros.
The week’s action gets underway with Wednesday’s NBO Oman Open Pro-Am while the main event takes place from Thursday to Sunday.
Blue chip support
In addition to title sponsor, National Bank of Oman, the world-class event is being supported by Platinum Sponsors Occidental of Oman and Al Tasnim as well as Hole Sponsor CCED. Rolex as official timekeeper, Omantel as official communication partner and Wicked Tents as the official supplier contribute substantially through their expertise and product support. In the Silver category are Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production LLC (OOCEP).
Further support for the event is provided by Oman Gas Company, Sohar Aluminium, Zahara Tours, Oman LNG LLC and Petrogas Rima. BMW as official vehicle partner, Europcar as official rental car partner, Tanuf as official water supplier, Titleist as official ball supplier and the official hotel Crowne Plaza Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre round up a great sponsor family for the event.
“At Occidental of Oman, we invest in sustainable development in the communities in which we operate,” said Occidental Oman’s President and General Manager Steve Kelly. “We are proud to sponsor the first European Tour golf event in Oman as this is a great opportunity to support economic diversification in the Sultanate.”
Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, said: “The hosting of such a high-profile event, which will be covered internationally by television broadcasting of over 1,200 hours of live and delayed coverage to a global home reach in excess of 400 million homes, is only achievable with investment from sponsors. The business community in Oman has recognised the significance of the inaugural NBO Oman Open and their support has been invaluable in bringing the event to the Sultanate.”
Other supporters of the NBO Oman Open include BMW (Official Car Partner), Crowne Plaza Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (Official Hotel Partner), Europcar (Official Rental Car Partner), Petrogas Rima (Supporting Partner) and Titleist (Official Ball).