Kaymer arrives in Oman to tackle ‘toughest opening hole on tour’

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Martin Kaymer of Germany celebrates after sinking his final putt on the 18th green to capture the US Open championship at Pinehurst No. 2, in 2014. (Reuters)
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Al Mouj Golf provides one of the most challenging tests for golfers in the region, and when the wind gets up can be regarded as the toughest course of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’. (Supplied)
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Al Mouj Golf provides one of the most challenging tests for golfers in the region, and when the wind gets up can be regarded as the toughest course of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 February 2020

Kaymer arrives in Oman to tackle ‘toughest opening hole on tour’

  • A top class field, featuring two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, will battle it out for the $1.75m prize
  • Measuring 454 yards, the first hole averaged 4.3 strokes across all four rounds during the 2019 event

MUSCAT, Oman: Al Mouj Golf, regarded by many as having one of the toughest opening holes on the European Tour circuit, is putting the finishing touches to the course in preparation for the 2020 Oman Open, held from 27 February — 1 March 2020.
The Oman Open returns to Al Mouj Muscat for the third time and will see a strong field teeing it up in Oman’s lifestyle and leisure destination. A world class field will be battling it out for the USD$1.75 million prize, with two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, two-time European Tour winner Eddie Pepperell, Ryder Cup winning captain Thomas Bjorn and rising stars Robert McIntire and Adri Arnaus among some of the star names set to tee it up in Oman. A tough start is guaranteed at Al Mouj Golf, with the daunting opening hole, Par 4, often considered one of the most demanding opening holes on the circuit. Measuring 454 yards, the first hole averaged 4.3 strokes across all four rounds during the 2019 event.
Set along a two kilometer stretch of the Indian Ocean and with the Hajjar mountains providing an impressive backdrop, the Greg Norman designed links style course is consistently rated as one of the best in the Middle East, with Norman himself rating it as one of his finest creations. Despite the stunning surroundings, Al Mouj Golf is certainly capable of baring its teeth. As Oman’s first links style course, it provides one of the most challenging tests for golfers in the region, and when the wind gets up can be regarded as the toughest course of the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’.
Winners of the 2019 IAGTO Sustainability Award for Community value, Al Mouj Golf prides itself on its biodiversity and sustainable practices and with wildflowers and natural dunes accenting the lush green grass, it certainly inspires a unique golfing experience in the Middle East. Greg Norman commented “The huge bonus for me was that I was able to create a vast natural habitat which quickly became a haven for birdlife and various flora and fauna.”
Nasser bin Masoud Al Sheibani, CEO of Al Mouj Muscat, said “We are delighted to be welcoming the European Tour back to Oman and Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open. The feedback from players has been overwhelmingly positive since the initial event in 2018, which is testament to the quality of the layout and the surrounding environment. Al Mouj Muscat is a fantastic leisure and lifestyle destination for tourists, and we look forward to showcasing this once again”.
European Tour players have enjoyed their previous visits to the Oman Open, with the course receiving glowing reviews, further strengthening its position as one of the best courses in the region. Eddie Pepperell said ‘‘Al Mouj Golf is a must play if you’re ever in Oman. I’d say it’s the best course I’ve played in the Middle East.”, while Chris Wood commented “It’s a bit of a mix between a links and a desert course. The design is really good and there are so many players saying the same things. It’s in perfect condition and the practice facilities are awesome too.”
Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East, European Tour said: “It’s wonderful to witness how much this tournament has grown over the years; starting out as a European Challenge Tour event in 2013 before being deservedly promoted to the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2015 and then becoming a full European Tour event in 2018.
“We’re extremely proud to visit the stunning Al Mouj Golf for the third Oman Open and delighted that the success of the tournament has contributed to the foundation of the Oman Golf Association, which marks another milestone for the development of golf in the Sultanate.”
Al Mouj Muscat offers an abundance of activities to enjoy in addition to the golf, with scuba diving and snorkelling trips, dolphin watching trips, water sports and fishing trips all available, as well as a range of restaurants and shops you will find at The Walk.
For more information on Al Mouj Muscat, please visit: www.almouj.com


Scenarios for a potential return of the Premier League

Updated 01 April 2020

Scenarios for a potential return of the Premier League

  • One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors

LONDON: English football's major stakeholders will meet on Friday to discuss their options to rescue a season derailed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premier League campaign has been postponed until at least April 30 because of the pandemic, but the chances of a return in May look bleak.

AFP Sport takes a closer look at the various scenarios that are likely to be considered in the talks over if and how to finish the season:

One option is for clubs to converge on a neutral location in which all remaining games are played behind closed doors, with only essential personnel and broadcasters allowed to attend.

There is believed to be growing support among clubs for this plan, with nine rounds of matches potentially in line to be staged in June and July.

Fixtures would reportedly be played in one or two locations in the Midlands and London.

That could mean players and coaches being quarantined away from their families in World Cup-style camps to avoid infection, with stadiums, hotels and training facilities undergoing a deep clean.

A radical upturn in testing for the virus in the UK over the next two months is the key to this plan for a number of reasons.

Firstly, to ease players' concerns of contracting COVID-19 while playing, but also to avoid criticism of privileged professional players being tested with mild or no symptoms if that is not available to the general public and in particular frontline workers.

FASTFACT

Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.

If the curve of cases is not significantly flattened come the summer the optics for the Premier League to have medical officials at nonessential events would also not be good.

Given the massive impact of the virus on society in general, it is seen in some quarters as morally inappropriate for football to return too soon.

Instead of rushing back to action, waiting until the virus is completely under control before play resumes is the preferred strategy in this scenario.

With the virus reportedly set to peak in the UK in June, that could mean remaining in sporting lockdown until August or September.

Waiting would allow the current season to be completed in full, ensuring the Premier League does not have to repay an estimated £750 million ($930 million, € 842 million) to television companies for breach of contract.

But it would have a huge knock-on effect for next season, potentially leading to a shortened schedule in 2020-21 in a bid to be ready for the delayed European Championship.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the campaign should be canceled if it cannot be finished by the end of June.

"Playing into July or August and pushing next season back, I don't see too much benefit in that," Kane said.

"Probably the limit for me is the end of June. If the season's not completed by the end of June we need to look at the options and just look forward to next season."

In what would be the worst-case scenario for the Premier League, some clubs reportedly want to abandon the current season immediately.

Senior figures in English club football believe there is "no place for sport at the moment,"  according to a recent report in the Athletic.

FA chairman Greg Clarke reportedly told the Premier League earlier this month he does not believe the season will be completed.

Declaring the season over could trigger legal action from a host of clubs, regardless of whether or not the standings are allowed
to count.

Liverpool need only two more wins to confirm their first league title since 1990 and hold a 25-point lead over Manchester City.

Canceling the season would scupper their hopes of ending a 30-year title drought, unless it was agreed to declare them champions anyway.

Manchester United, Wolves, Sheffield United and Tottenham, all currently outside the top four, would surely claim they had been unfairly been denied a chance of Champions League qualification.

Aston Villa would be relegated along with Norwich and Bournemouth, but Dean Smith's team would point to the game in hand that would lift them above Watford to safety if they won it.

In the Championship, the current top two are Leeds and West Bromwich Albion and they would be furious if a 'null and void' ruling robbed them of a lucrative promotion.