leisurecorp ambassador westwood leads the way at
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Westwood, who owns a villa at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Leisurecorpâ€™s flagship development in Dubai, thrilled the 10,000-strong crowd as he carded a third round 68 to move into a two-shot lead. More than 25,000 spectators have now poured through the gates of the Leisurecorp-owned venue after just three days - already surpassing the total attendance for the 2007 Championship.
Westwood, who has made two previous appearances at the tournament, is chasing his last opportunity for victory this year and is also aiming to claim the 158,500 Euros winners cheque that would see him jump up The Race to Dubai rankings. The 35-year-old has been one of the world's most consistent golfers in the past 12 months, with an incredible 13 top-10 finishes, including a third-place finish at US Open, but despite moving up to tenth on the World Rankings is still without a win.
The Englishman is hoping to put all his near-misses from 2008 behind him by claiming victory on the enhanced Jack Nicklaus-designed course of which he is a huge admirer.
â€œI'm just enjoying it, and I look forward to going out and playing every day the way I'm hitting the ball and it's a golf course that I enjoy playing. I've always played well on Nicklaus courses. The breeze seemed to pick up a little bit, and itâ€™s not an easy breeze to play in. It's a very wellâ€‘designed strategic golf course, and you come into crosswind a lot with the traps, and if you pick the right club, you have to commit to the shot away from the flag. â€œI've not won all year and it would be nice to win this year, and also starting this Race to Dubai, it would be nice to get some momentum in that. It would also be good just to finish off the year solidly. I've played good all year, and I'm continuing to do it this week.â€
Local hero Retief Goosen gave the crowd plenty to cheer about as he charged up the leaderboard with a 66 to go eight-under par and put himself in contention on the last day. The South African then became the latest superstar to praise the effect that Leisurcorp has had on the worldâ€™s second oldest open Championship.
â€œIt's a great tournament this year. Everything has been upgraded. The course is in great shape, everything about it. The crowd is much better and everything around the clubhouse that they have done for the players as well.â€
Irishman Gareth Maybin, who started day three in a tie for sixth, moved into a share of second place with a 69 and was quick to praise the electric atmosphere in the revamped spectator areas:
â€œOn the 18th green, they have put the whole gallery around you, and it's brilliant,â€ he said.
Leisurecorp was established by Dubai World in July 2006, to identify, acquire, develop and manage a portfolio of investments in the sports and leisure sectors in Dubai and across the world. Its portfolio includes Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubaiâ€™s premier residential golf community; Pearl Valley Golf Estates, South Africaâ€™s leading residential golf community, which will host the South African Open for the next two years; a major shareholding in Island Global Yachting, the premier owner, developer and manager of luxury marinas; a stake in Troon Golf, the world's leading luxury-brand golf management, development and marketing company; a shareholding in GPS Industries, the provider of Wi-Fi enabled global positioning systems (GPS) for golf and residential communities; and a stake in Snowmass Colorado, a 2.8 million square foot re-development ofÂ one of North Americaâ€™s premier ski resorts.
In November 2007, Leisurecorp announced a wide-ranging partnership with The European Tour which will create The Dubai World Championship, the worldâ€™s richest golf tournament with a US$10,000,000 prize fund. To be held annually at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the tournament will be open to the players numbered 1- 60 on The Race to Dubai â€“ formerly The European Tour Order of Merit â€“ with players being given the opportunity to compete for an additional US$10,000,000 bonus fund. From 2009, Jumeirah Golf Estates will also become home to The European Tourâ€™s International Headquarters.
In October 2008, Leisurecorp acquired Turnberry in Scotland, the host venue for the 2009 Open Championship, from Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
For more information please visit www.leisurecorpmediacentre.com
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