As the 2020 Oman Open got under way at the stunning Al Mouj Golf course, the venue and Oman as a host received a shot in the arm from the top European Tour official in the Middle East.
“I think the Al Mouj Golf is one of the top courses we have on the European Tour. It is right up there with the best, it’s a fantastic golf course,’’ Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East, European Tour, stated in an exclusive interview with Oman Daily Observer.
Phillips reminisced about the journey of the event and felt it was great for the event to grow the way it has.
“I love the journey of the event. We went to the Challenge Tour and then we went to the final of the event. Now its a full-fledged European Tour event and the field has got bigger and better. The corporate partnerships we have got, its grown tremendously.”
Phillips felt the stature of the event could be gauged from the fact that the field is increasingly getting better.
“The field seems to be getting better here every year. As far as I can see our strongest field so far. We have the former world number one, two Major champions, 12 Ryder Cup players in the field. Things keep on improving and that has a lot to do with the venue and the tournament. It’s a fantastic golf course and the golfers love it. The Omani hospitality and the hotel facilities all of it are great,’’ he added.
Phillips explained the Oman Open’s significant impact for Oman’s tourism promotion as well apart from its sporting importance. “It has an impact on a number of different levels. The broadcast is going around to about 200 million homes across the world. So, tourists from around the world would be watching and following. And that stunning scenery that would get splashed across TV screens around the world could help tourism as well,’’ Phillips revealed.
Phillips said the European Tour was also looking at exploring Oman’s potential as an investment destination as well. He stressed on the benefits of having top golfers from around the world for local, junior golfers. “These players are role models for local kids. We hope the local golf scene grows and develops. The ultimate aim would be to see if an Omani golfer would be able to challenge for the title.”
Phillips also revealed they have conducted golf clinics that would see junior Omani golfers learn from the experienced golfers touring Oman.
“We’ve been running clinics this week. Having some of our top golfers pass on their experience to the local golfers.”
Phillips was effusive in praise of the Oman Golf Association for getting the recognition as an official federation.
“Oman Golf Association is recognised as an official federation and that is a great development.
Talking about the future of the Oman Open, Phillips felt the event would only grow further from here. “We will always look to go forward. We will see where we can get bigger and better,’’ he added.