Sports Minister tees off NBO Oman Open

MUSCAT: The historic first edition of the NBO Oman Open was opened today in a style befitting of an event of such importance when Shaikh Saad bin Mohammed al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs, hit a ceremonial tee shot off the first tee at Al Mouj Golf in Muscat. 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.
Al Mouj 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 Al Mouj 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.”
Dr Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas, a keen golfer, also hit an impressive tee shot at the inauguration — as well as NBO CEO Ahmed al Musalmi and the chairperson who participated in the official opening ceremony before being taken on a tour of the tournament 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 under way with Wednesday’s NBO Oman Open Pro-Am while the main event takes place from Thursday (February 15 to 18) to Sunday.
Entry is free of charge.