Times of Oman
Muscat: The European Challenge Tour’s prestigious season-ending NBO Golf Classic Grand Final was officially opened in fitting style on Wednesday when chief guest Sultan bin Salem Al Habsi, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Oman, hit a ceremonial tee shot off the first tee at Almouj Golf in Muscat.
Sultan bin Salem Al Habsi was joined by a group of VIPs, including National Bank of Oman CEO Ahmed Al Musalmi and National Bank of Oman Chairperson Sayyidah Rawan Al Said, who participated in the official opening ceremony before being taken on a tour of the tournament facilities, which included watching a fun performance by the ‘Trick Shot Boys’.
“At NBO, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting this tournament at all levels,” said chairperson Sayyidah Rawan Al Said. “We believe that this great game is more than just a sport, we believe it is the perfect vehicle that can help drive Oman’s economy forward and showcase what we have to offer.
“Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that this beautiful game represents even more. Golf engages young people in many ways. It teaches key life skills while highlighting the importance of humility and respect and how to remain persistent and dedicated in their goals.
“These are just a handful of reasons why we at NBO made the commitment to become a driving force behind golf in the Sultanate.
“As a truly international game, this event positions Oman on a global platform to potential investors, whilst helping promote our country as a key tourist destination.”
The NBO Golf Classic Grand Final is the final stage of the European Challenge Tour’s ‘Road to Oman’ which has taken place in 27 tournaments in 21 different countries culminating in the Muscat season-ender. The top 45 players in the rankings are competing this week for a €420,000 prize fund as well as the chance to play on the European Tour next season.
That honour will be awarded the players who finish in the top 15 places in the rankings once the tournament is over, and it has proven to be a life-changing promotion for some of those who have preceded them on the same journey.
Last year’s Road to Oman champion, Jordan Smith, graduated to play on this season’s European Tour and has already won his first title at the Porsche European Open which enabled him to tee up in his first Major, the US PGA Championship where he finished in a tie for ninth place. He is now in the top 60 players in the world and currently in 20th place in the Race to Dubai with his spot in the field for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship secured.
The USA’s Brooks Koepka, a graduate of the Challenge Tour’s ‘Class of 2013’ won this year’s US Open, while fellow graduate Tyrrell Hatton is enjoying a wonderful season on the European Tour having claimed a second successive Alfred Dunhill Links Championship title before following up with another victory the following week at the Italian Open.
The players in this week’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final have the opportunity to experience a similar life-changing path to success, while the tournament itself will also gain a well-deserved promotion when it becomes part of the 2018 European Tour schedule after five successful years on the Challenge Tour.