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Star-studded field and enhanced course for 2007 Abu Dhabi Championship

A star-studded international field of 120, including defending champion Chris DiMarco, world number 10 Sergio Garcia, Ryder Cup talisman and eight-time European Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie, and championship newcomer Retief Goosen, ranked 5th in the world, will vie for the top prize in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship 2007, to be held at the capital’s National Course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in January.

It will be the first event in 2007 on the PGA European Tour, adding considerable swing to the emirate’s desire to drive its way onto the global golfing map.

The Championship, fully sanctioned by the UAE Golf Association with a US $2 million prize fund, will be contested over four days from January 18th – 21st on the newly enhanced course, and enjoy improved facilities at Abu Dhabi’s premier golf course.

Looking to build on the success of this year’s inaugural Championship, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which owns the tournament, says the aim of placing the capital on the global golfing map is well within reach.

“The inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship brought significant benefits to the emirate which is now actively engaged in talks with a number of leading sports tour operators worldwide to bring golfing tourists to the UAE capital,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, ADTA Chairman.

“We are now drafting a long-term golf tourism strategy for the emirate which will see us move significantly forward with plans for a number of new world-class courses - particularly on our flagship Saadiyat Island international destination development, for which two courses are being designed.

“We have identified golf tourism as a key growth target in our aim of attracting up to three million visitors annually to Abu Dhabi by 2015, a three fold increase from its current yearly average. Golf means business. It brings tourism revenue to hotels, restaurants, car rental firms, taxis and airlines and our first, home-grown golf championship is ensuring awareness of Abu Dhabi is spreading rapidly throughout the tourism industry.”

The world-class field is certainly drawing attention to the tournament and, from the viewpoint of the ADTA, is proving a fantastic pull in setting the groundwork to allow Abu Dhabi to evolve in to one of the world’s top golfing destinations.

Mubarak Al Muhairi, ADTA Director General, said: “Once again we will have a premier contingent of the world’s top golfers competing for honours at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Chris DiMarco’s victory in this year’s event heralded the Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a major player on the global golf scene and the 2007 Championship seems certain to drive additional impetus to the UAE capital’s world-wide appeal as a golfing destination of choice.”

Speaking of his determination to defend his 2006 title, 38-year-old DiMarco said: “Earlier this year Abu Dhabi and I made golfing history – and while it’s commonly held that history never repeats itself – I shall be looking to turn that particular saying on its head next January.

“Apart from winning the championship, I also was blown away by how well we were treated in Abu Dhabi. The start of a new year brings many new opportunities and I view the Abu Dhabi Championship as an important personal goal for 2007.”

Several revisions are being made to the National Course in time for the 2007 event. “A number of new tees are being built and fairway shaping changes put in place to enhance the degree of difficulty,” explained Ahmed Hussain, ADTA Director, Product Development.

“This is the second phase in a long-term programme of agronomic and design improvements to the course aimed at providing a stiff, but fair, test for the world’s best players, while, at the same time, taking care not to spoil the enjoyment of the members and guests who play the course for the 51 non-tournament weeks of the year. Several other off-course improvements are underway as well to enhance the championship experience for all spectators.”

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship has won resounding support from the PGA European Tour. It’s Executive Director, George O’Grady, commented: “The players last year were over the moon with the way they, and the inaugural championship, was received in Abu Dhabi. Given the very positive feedback, we are immensely pleased that the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will kick start the European Tour international schedule for 2007.”

DiMarco won the inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Tournament – his first European Tour event outside the Majors and World Golf Championships – with a superb performance in which he carded a final round of 67 for a 20 under par total of 268 and a one shot victory over the gallant Swede Henrik Stenson, winner of the BMW International Open and the reigning Qatar Open champion.

December 13, 2006

 




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