Muscat, jan 8 - Oman is all set to host the third edition of the prestigious 2020 Oman Open, part of the full European Tour, from February 27-March 1 at the picturesque Al Mouj Golf in Muscat. The previous two editions saw Joost Luiten and Kurt Kitayama become the champions of the 2018 and 2019 editions respectively. Talking exclusively to Oman Daily Observer on the sidelines of the press meet, Jamie Wood, the championship director of the event expected a great event with a cracking bunch of golfers.
“The confirmed list of players would be known only by February. However, the names on the entry list suggests that the field of players is getting stronger year on year. The players knew very little about Oman until they came here last year and they have been impressed about the facilities. The Kempinski and the golf course is at a close proximity and that has certainly helped the players and they have enjoyed themselves,’’ Wood added.
Wood also dwelt on the Omani participation in the event and stated there is a possibility of two Omani golfers featuring in the event.
“We will have a pool of 144 players, out of which 136 of the players would be featuring on the basis of rankings. There are eight slots that are available on invitation. Out of these eight, five slots are for domestic professionals and three for the amateurs. Since there are no Omani professional golfers, Azaan al Rumhy who is the leading amateur Omani golfer would take one place, one place would go to the winner of the OHI Oman Amateur Championships. In addition, the victor of the Mena Tour’s Ghala Open played at Ghala Golf Club, the week prior to the Oman Open will be invited to join the field.’’ So, technically there is place for two Omani golfers to take part, one guaranteed and the other subject to qualification,’’ Wood revealed.
The Oman Open is always looked upon as an exposure platform for local golfers and Wood reiterated the commitment.
“It’s great to create the aspiration to have 144 players to play on top of their game here in Oman. To have these players competing is fantastic and to get our local golfers to watch them up close is great. The players like to give it back and last year we had the 2018 champion and runner-up conduct a one-hour golf clinic for Omani junior golfers which went on even longer than an hour. So, this kind of exposure is always beneficial,’’ he added.
The economic impact of Oman’s biggest professional sporting occasion is considerable with the figure estimated to be around $26 million while a global television reach of 200 million with 1,912 hours of dedicated coverage in addition to exceptional international print and online coverage saw last year’s Oman Open generate a Media Value of $89.4 million, up from $74 million in 2018, as golf fans around the world were treated to stunning visuals of the
Al Mouj Golf course in its beautiful coastal setting.
Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East, European Tour said: “It’s wonderful to witness how much this tournament has grown over the years; starting out as a European Challenge Tour event in 2013 before being deservedly promoted to the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2015 and then becoming a full European Tour event in 2018.”
“We’re extremely proud to visit the stunning Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open next month and delighted that the success of the tournament has contributed to the foundation of the Oman Golf Association, which marks another milestone for the development of golf in the Sultanate. Congratulations to Shaikh Saad bin Mohammed al Saadi, Mundhir al Barwani and all of the team at the Oman Golf Association,’’ he added.