Al Mouj specialist Sordet relishing Oman Open return

MUSCAT: Clement Sordet arrives at Al Mouj Golf this week with a spring in his step and for good reason. The Frenchman has enjoyed plenty of success in the Sultanate having won the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2017 before finishing tied second at last year’s Oman Open.
The 27-year-old, who is still searching for a maiden European Tour triumph, was on the bubble of securing a European Tour card when he arrived in Muscat in 2017 but his win over the Greg Norman designed course propelled him to second in the Challenge Tour Rankings which secured his European Tour playing privileges for the following season.
“It’s always nice to come out to Oman and play golf,” said Sordet. “The people are really nice, and the golf course is always in great condition. I’ve obviously had some great memories here so it’s nice to be back. I was just on the edge of the top 15 in the Challenge Tour Rankings in 2017 so I needed a good weekend and I did well and won the event! Last year I finished second so I’m really excited to get started.
“I just feel good every time I come here, visually it looks really good off the tee and makes me feel comfortable and last time I played really well. It’s all about putting and getting the ball on the fairway.”
The Oman Open is still a reasonably new tournament on the European Tour schedule with this week’s tournament marking only the third staging of the event while the Middle East’s oldest tournament, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, has been played for over 30 years. But Sordet believes that the Sultanate could be as successful as the region’s oldest Tour event due to all the hard work the country has put into promoting golf.
“I’ve not played in Abu Dhabi or Dubai but I would still say Al Mouj is the best course in the Middle East,” he said. “The Oman Open is getting better every year and they are trying to do everything to make it a big event here and I think it’s going to keep growing through the years. The weather here is so good and it feels like they are putting a lot of money in the city and they are trying to build a lot of buildings.
“You can see that things are growing every time you come here so I think in a few years time I feel like it could be the next Dubai. Unfortunately, I won’t see much of the country this week as I’ll be fully focused on my golf this week as winning here once is not enough for me.”
Meanwhile, three-time European Tour winner Brandon Stone also has fond memories of Muscat as he makes his fifth appearance in the Oman capital this week. Aside from his two European Tour appearances in the Sultanate, the South African enjoyed top 10 finishes twice when the event was on the Challenge Tour schedule.
The former Rolex Series winner finished tied fourth in 2013 at Al Mouj Golf before a sixth placed finish in the Challenge Tour Grand Final two years later helped him on his way to 14th in the Rankings which secured his European Tour playing privileges for the following season.
“Oman is fantastic,” said Stone, who won in just his second European Tour start as a full-time member at the South African Open. “What a design of a golf course that is – when people ask me what’s my favourite course on the European Tour, Al Mouj Golf is definitely up there. It’s simply fantastic. I played it during my time on the Challenge Tour and the design of the course is timeless. Greg Norman has done an incredible job there. Coming back is really fun. I love the place, the people, the golf course, the town of Muscat so I’m very excited to be back here.”
This will be Stone’s fourth tournament on this year’s two-part Desert Swing after appearances at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Saudi International powered by SBIA and the 26 year old revealed the most important aspect of playing desert golf.
“Generally, when playing golf in the Middle East, driving is important. You’ve got to get a decent amount of carry through the air and with a lot of bunkers sitting around 280-290 yards off the tee it’s important to find the fairway – and that applies to this course, too.”
This year’s Oman Open is the third staging of the event at Al Mouj Golf and players will compete for a prize fund of $1.75m.