Rory McIlroy triumphs at inaugural Saadiyat Beach Classic
Rory McIlroy was tipped by nine-times major champion Gary Player as the potential next world no. 1 today, after he and his team claimed victory in the inaugural Saadiyat Beach Classic on the occasion of the grand opening of Tourism Development & Investment Company’s (TDIC) Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
“He has a great team behind him, bags of talent and one of the best swings in golf. If he continues the way he is going, I have no doubt Rory has the potential to be the next number one,” said Player, who hit the first drive on the stunning ‘Prelude’ opening hole and presented TDIC’s COO, Ahmed Hussein, with the signed club, officially marking the course’s launch.
“When we first sat down and came up with the plans for Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, we wanted to create something special that set the global benchmark and resonated with visitors and residents who wanted to connect with a truly world-class destination,” said Ahmed Hussein.
“Gary has helped bring this course to life and created what we firmly believe will be a truly unparalleled golfing experience for amateurs and professionals alike.”
Many of golf’s future stars and big names from the world of sport played the lush fairways and sweeping greens of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in the charity tournament. hosted by Player. Rory McIlroy, the current world number 11, was full of praise for the Club and its role in helping establish the emirate as a world-class golf destination of distinction.
“We start our season in Abu Dhabi and have a three week ‘swing’ in the Middle East. The UAE has become a great destination and with facilities like Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, I can only see more and more golfers coming to play here. It’s ideal for practising and the facilities are world-class,” added McIlroy, who finished third in last week’s 5th annual Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
Alongside McIlroy, other up-and-coming talents - in the form of Melissa Reid, Maria Verchenova and Henrietta Zuel, the Ladies’ European Tour rising stars, and Oliver Fisher – gave Gary Player and the watching crowds plenty of reason to be optimistic about the future of the sport with an impressive on-course display.
“I’ve had a really good time, and it’s been great playing on this fantastic course. To see projects like this coming online here in Abu Dhabi is important for golf. I think we will definitely see more local players taking up the sport, and more international players coming over here. I would definitely like to come back,” said Zuel, who will be staying in the emirate for the next two-weeks for warm-weather practice.
And Verchenova, Russia’s first female European Tour player, said she hoped to stay on after the tournament. “It has been wonderful to come and meet up again with my friends from the Gary Player Group. Mr Player has designed many great courses but this surely has to be one of the most spectacular. I’m looking forward to spending a few more days here in Abu Dhabi and experience as much of the local culture and ambience as possible,” she said.
Oliver Fisher, the youngest-ever player to take part in the Walker Cup, was also full of praise for the emirate’s emergence as a top-draw golf centre. “Abu Dhabi is really a golfing oasis. Having played last week as part of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and then to be here on this brand new and beautiful course has been a really good experience. The emirate is really driving forward its golf offering, which is great to see,” he added.
It has also been announced that world-renowned architect Frank Gehry will be designing the clubhouse of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club as the centrepiece for the stunning course. The Arabian Gulf’s first and only beachfront course, managed by Troon Golf, will boast an 18,000 sqm clubhouse with unique design statements that incorporate Saadiyat Island’s stunning natural beauty, to create an instantaneously recognisable international landmark when it opens in 2012.
The Saadiyat Beach Classic closed with TDIC hosting a black tie gala charity dinner, where more than 50 must-have items donated by corporate sponsors and partners were auctioned, with the money raised going to five local and international charities: the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs, Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, Red Crescent UAE, Future Centre for Special Needs and the Gary Player Foundation. A proportion of the proceeds also went to aiding victims of the recent Haiti earthquake and to assist with the growing relief efforts.
More news items about Saadiyat Beach:
• Saadiyat Beach named 'Best Golf Course' at Property Awards (29/10/10)