Sheikh Fahim Al Qassimi, former Minister of Economy and Commerce, UAE, teamed up with one of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship’s top stars, Padraig Harrington, in the curtain-raising Al Masaood Pro-Am event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Sheikh Fahim, who has been playing golf for around seven years, played with the European number one and world number nine in the traditional dress rehearsal for the Championship that gave 96 amateurs the chance to play alongside professionals such as Harrington; defending champion Chris DiMarco of the USA; two-time US Open Champion and world number eight Retief Goosen; and world top-20 players Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Colin Montgomerie and Nick O’Hern.
The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, which is owned by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), runs from today (Thursday, January 18) to Sunday (January 21).
Commenting on the experience of playing alongside the Irish star, who was a member of Europe’s Ryder Cup-winning team in 2006, Sheikh Fahim said, “It has been great, fantastic. He is very pleasant to play with. He has been sharing his ideas about the game with us and giving us tips. Playing with such a player makes you like the game more, and want to play it more.”
The pro-am event was sponsored by Al Masaood Automobiles, the dealer for Nissan in Abu Dhabi. Nissan is Gold Sponsor for the Championship. Completing the trio of amateurs playing with Padraig Harrington were Khalifa Al Kaabi and Dr Sultan Abdul Arli.
One of the three amateurs playing with South African star Retief Goosen was Cheryl Wiguna, an architect from Jakarta, Indonesia. “I’m trying not to embarrass myself,” confided the five-handicap player at the half way stage. “I’m only one over par so I’m playing well. Retief has a very smooth swing and I think I’m being influenced by that. I’m hitting better by watching him.”
The Al Masaood Pro-Am culminated with a Gala Awards Dinner at the Emirates Palace Hotel.
The pro who goes on to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Sunday (January 21) will leave with a first prize of US$333,330 from a total purse of US$2 million, while the first player to hit a hole in one at the Championship will win free rooms for life at Emirates Palace hotel and a Nissan 350Z. The luxury Abu Dhabi hotel and car manufacturer are among an elite list of sponsors for the event, which also includes Etihad Airways, Aldar, Standard Chartered Bank, Etisalat, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Omega and Xerox.
Tickets for the star-studded Abu Dhabi Golf Championship are available via the official website – www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com – online at www.timeouttickets.com, via the ITP toll free hotline 800 4669 or for international clients +971 4 210 8943 and at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Tickets are priced at AED 125 for a daily pass and AED400 for a four-day pass though preferential rates of AED100 and AED300 respectively apply to UGA members. Children under 18 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Car parking will be free during the Championship.
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