Oman to join European Challenge Tour in 2013
Oman to join European Challenge Tour in 2013
As promoted by National Bank of Oman, the tournament will be the first Challenge Tour event of its kind not only in Oman but also in the GCC and will offer a total prize-money of $300,000.
With its place on the 2013 calendar (confirmed as the last event on the calendar before the season-end Challenge Tour Grand Final) the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic is set to attract a powerful field of 84 professionals with a further 30 invites available to the title sponsors, including 10 for low handicap amateurs.
From the professional invites to the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic, five will be allocated to other Challenge Tour events in return for amateur invites on a reciprocal basis, allowing Arab nationals, subject to handicap requirements, to compete in other Challenge Tour events during the season. This will provide great opportunities for golfers throughout the Arab world to get international experience wherever the Challenge Tour goes.
“As title sponsor for the next three years, National Bank of Oman looks forward to welcoming the players and officials for the first ever Challenge Tour event in Oman,” said NBO CEO Salaam Al Shaksy at the press conference held yesterday at the Greg Norman-designed Almouj Golf, The Wave Muscat.
He further added, “At National Bank of Oman, we are proud of the steps Oman has taken with the launch of Almouj Golf — The Wave Muscat, the first Professional Golf Association (PGA) championship course in the sultanate. With the support of the Oman Golf Committee General Secretary Sayyid Arqam Al Busaidi, Oman will become the 45th country to be visited by the European Challenge Tour.
“The government, under the wise guidance of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, continues to strive to strengthen the country’s position as an international tourism destination and at National Bank of Oman we believe in playing our part in that vision.
“Over the coming months we will work hand in hand with our colleagues in the Ministry of Sports Affairs and Ministry of Tourism to give the sultanate an event that will stand out as one of the best and most professional on the Challenge Tour calendar.”
The presence of co-sponsors and supporters will be hugely important in the overall success of the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic. I look forward to inviting and meeting corporates, private organizations and international brands who wish to play their part in projecting a sophisticated and professional image to the world.”
Alain de Soultrait, director of the European Challenge Tour, said the players and officials alike, were excited at the prospect of staging an event in the GCC for the first time in the Challenge Tour’s 26-year history.
“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing the Challenge Tour to Oman and these are exciting times for us as it is the first time we have ever visited this part of the world,” he said. As the penultimate event of the 2013 Challenge Tour season, the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will be a crucial tournament for our players and even more so thanks to the significant prize fund.”
In 2012 the Challenge Tour played 26 events in 18 countries for a combined prize fund of over $7.1 million, while only four of those events offered a greater prize fund than the new tournament – and with the event also providing places in the field to amateurs from throughout the region. The 2013 National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will offer the best Arab golfers an opportunity to experience playing alongside future European Tour stars.
“We thank National Bank of Oman, its board of directors, and senior management for offering the Challenge Tour this unique opportunity. We also believe Oman’s national players will take full benefit of the possibility of playing with the Challenge Tour players,” added de Soultrait.
Launched in 1986, the Challenge Tour has helped launch the careers of golfing superstars such as Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, while South Africa’s Branden Grace — now ranked fifth in The Race to Dubai — was playing on the Challenge Tour just 12 months ago.
With a high quality field, worldwide TV exposure and the opportunity for the region’s budding amateurs and professionals to get Challenge Tour experience, the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will be on one of the most prominent sporting occasions on the sultanate’s calendar for the next three years.
Among the sponsorship benefits available will be the pre-tournament Pro-Am, corporate hospitality, TV exposure through on-course branding and other associated activities such as golf clinics by Challenge Tour stars.
'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt
- Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
- Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious
ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup.
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target.
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal.
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction.
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.