Oman’s amazing beauty makes it par for the course, say pro golfers
March 4, 2019 | 2:27 PM
by Times News Service
Image Credits: Oman Open & European Tour

Muscat: The world’s leading and upcoming golfers have taken to social media to tell their followers just how taken they have been by Oman's natural beauty.

More than 140 golfers came to Oman to take part in the Oman Open, and were quite taken by the beauty of the Sultanate.

The tournament, which ran from 28 February to 3 March, is part of the expanded European Tour, and is considered to be an integral part of the Race to Dubai, the final leg of which takes place in the Emirate on the 24th of November later this year.

Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti, who finished joint second said. “I love Oman! It was going to be a really tough test for us this week. The greens are great and the conditions are perfect so I was just hoping the wind was not that strong so that it did not get tough for us."

Chris Paisley, who was 9th in the overall rankings, said this was among the best courses he’d played on. “The golf course is fantastic, it’s probably in as good a condition as I’ve ever seen a course on the European Tour,” he explained ahead of tee-off.

“It’s obviously very demanding, especially on those last few holes down by the water and the ocean on the left, and the wind of the left of course, and we’re looking forward to playing on it.”

“Al Mouj Muscat has to be one of the best courses we play on the European Tour,” added fellow Brit Ashley Chesters, who also finished 9th. “It should be a good week.”

While all of the golfers who came here were of course professional athletes, they did find some time to have a bit of fun. German chef Frank Rosin, who holds two Michelin stars, joined the golfers on the course, learning some golfing tips from them while sharing his cooking secrets with the surprisingly eager group of athletes, thereby showcasing the amazing hospitality Oman has on offer.

“Celebrated German chef Frank Rosin, holder of two Michelin stars, has been out for the Oman Open, mixing business with pleasure!” said an official at the Oman Open. “He started today cooking with two of our pros Bernd Ritthammer and Bertasio Nino and then spent the afternoon playing in the Pro-Am with Maximilian Kieffer.”

It was something Kieffer, who finished joint second, was certainly excited about, as he said, “Great day at the Oman Open Golf Pro-Am! Frank Rosin certainly worked on his golf skills, now I need to catch up with my cooking skills. Looking forward to a challenging weekend in the Oman Open Golf.”

American Kurt Kitayama won the 2019 Oman Open, mounting an amazing comeback after falling behind when he began his third round with a quadruple bogey, after being just a stroke off the lead at one point. Although he was seven strokes off first place when the final day began, he made six birdies and an eagle to ensure he was back in the reckoning.

“It feels great to grind through all of that,” he admitted, while giving his official European Tour post-match interview. "The way we started that third round, I was like, 'can we stop right now?'. It gave me a refresh and it was incredible coming back."

One of the favourites going into the tournament was Joost Luiten. The Dutchman had won last year’s event, but an under-par performance meant he could only finish 12th overall. He has decided to skip the upcoming Qatar Masters so that he can refocus on his game, and was keen to look at the positives.

“I have not scored enough in the last round for a real top result,” he revealed. “The first nine holes that I had to finish were good and I finished strong with a birdie on 8 and a long putt of 15 metres on 9 that fell. Unfortunately, I could not pull the line that well during the afternoon round. It was difficult to play with the wind. All in all it was certainly not a bad week. I knew that it would be difficult physically and mentally to travel here from Mexico and get a good result, but a 12th place is certainly not bad. I will leave the Qatar Masters of next week. After the last two weeks, I need a week of rest.”

Danish golfer Joachim B Hansen, who finished sixth, was using the series of golf tournaments held across the GCC to prepare himself for sterner challenges as the year went by. Before the Oman Open began, he’d said, “The three tournaments in the first round of the desert swing ended with 54 in Abu Dhabi, 61 in Dubai and 24 in Saudi Arabia. I was happy with the three weeks, but I just needed a top-up. Now I'm in Dubai where I will train towards the next two weeks in Oman and Qatar.”

His fellow Scandinavian, Swede Peter Hanson, was on hand to capture some of the more humorous sides of the tournament, such as catching the 5am bus that would take the golfers to Al Mouj, where the Oman Open was being held. “We’re waiting on the 5am bus to take us to the golf course for the 2nd round of the Oman Open,” said Hanson who also finished 6th, “I made a quick pit stop in Sweden before travelling to Oman.”

American Kurt Kitayama finished first at the Oman Open, with Spaniard Jorge Campillo finished in second, with German Maximilian Kieffer also taking second place, alongside Frenchman Clement Sordet and Fabrizio Zanotti from Paraguay.

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