The award-winning Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA has opened registration for its popular volunteers programme ahead of the tournament from January 18-21, 2018.
The pristine Abu Dhabi Golf Club will once again play host to the ‘best of the best’ next year, where volunteers will not only have a chance to get inside the ropes with the likes of reigning champion Tommy Fleetwood, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and super Swede Henrik Stenson, but there’s also a host of other exciting incentives.
Accepted volunteers will be briefed before the event and will receive their championship uniform to wear throughout the week while they work.
Marshals, mobile scoreboard operators and walking scorers are just a few of the roles volunteers can take on, providing a unique insight into this world-class event in the UAE capital.
Apart from the delicious all-day catering, drinks and snacks are available at the Volunteers HQ. After each shift the volunteers will receive a voucher to spend at the food trucks in the Championship Village.
A Certificate of Service will be given to each volunteer once the championship is over and they can attend the post-event party (over-18’s only) at the volunteer tent, as well as a have their photo taken with the 2018 winner.
Peter German, the championship’s tournament director said: “With each year we offer the volunteers programme and the great opportunities available, its popularity grows. The volunteers play a key role in helping us deliver a successful tournament year on year, so we’re thankful to all those – both living in the UAE and from abroad – who have participated in the past. And to those for this year’s championship I look forward to welcoming you all in January.”
One such dedicated volunteer was Bernard Dowling, a 79-year-old who has volunteered at every championship since its inception and has flown from the UK to do so.
His role each year was to collect the bibs off players and caddies after they finish on the 18th, but this year Dowling has also decided to hang up his own bib, making the 2017 edition his final championship.
A change of putter worked wonders for long-hitting Anne Van Dam who blistered the front nine to move atop the leaderboard going into the penultimate round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.
Starting the second round two shots off the pace, the 22-year-old Dutch star fired a flawless seven-under 65 to reach 10-under for the tournament, a good two shots ahead of Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald.
England’s Georgia Hall, placed 14th overnight, carded a sparkling 67 to join Australia’s Celina Yuan and Thidapa Suwannapura in a three-way tie for third on seven-under as overnight leader Supamas Sangchan slipped to tied sixth after returning a 71.
Teeing off from the 10th, Van Dam set the tone of the day with a birdie on the 11th before making the turn at two-under. Five in seven holes sparked her round to life, putting her firmly in the frame for her second title on the Ladies European Tour.
What a day for @Annevandan!— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 7, 2017
Superb 2nd round bogey-free 65 (-7) moves her to the top of the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic leaderboard on -10 pic.twitter.com/7jQl8qMizB
On Monday, a massive 350-yard drive on the 18th set her up for an 8-iron approach shot into the green and a comfortable two-putt birdie, however it was her putting which helped her move to the top of the leaderboard on day two.
“I haven’t been putting great at all for the last half year, but I changed putters two days ago,” said the 22-year-old Van Dam, last year’s Xiamen Ladies Open champion, 22.
“I went for something completely different. Normally I have face-balance and now I have toe-hang. It’s a blade, and normally I have a mallet.”
Van Dam, ranked second in driving distance on tour, with an average drive of 278.60 yards, clearly relished the opportunity to compete in a long-hitting three-ball featuring Brittany Lincicome and Angel Yin, officially first in driving distance at 283 yards.
“We had a lot of fun out there today and yesterday as well,” she said. “We were all under par for two days in a row and we all hit it long, so that helps, helps with the game and we all play aggressively.”
The lively American Solheim Cup player, Yin, 19, insisted on interviewing Van Dam after they finished playing together. “Last year when I played with her, I was like, all that six feet height wasted!,” Yin said. “This year was like, oh, I’m impressed.”
Scotland’s MacDonald credited her caddie, Katy McNicoll, a former Ladies European Tour player and PGA assistant professional at Gullane, for keeping her calm and focused.
“I just lost confidence kind of during the year, and again, just having someone on the bag that’s just reiterating, you know, my thoughts and going over the same things. It’s just putting the confidence back into me. She’s a great friend, too, so that obviously helps,” said MacDonald.
While Van Dam played a power game, the LET’s 2017 order of merit winner Hall plotted her way to a 67, her six birdies including a 30-feet effort on the ninth, which she played as her final hole.
“I did putt well today and I wanted to take advantage of the morning round, because the greens were in better condition and less wind, so I’m glad I did it,” said Hall, still jet-lagged from her trip from the United States.
“I woke up at midnight and didn’t get back to sleep. I wasn’t in the best of moods today. I’m quite tired, but I played well,” said Hall, who took half a club more on most shots to compensate.
Yuan, who had made one cut from six starts on the LET coming into this week, followed her opening 68 with a 69, although it wasn’t as eventful as the first round, when her ball hit an airborne parrot on the third hole and she went on to make a birdie there.
“I was going to hit my shot and everything was clear and then once I began and I hit my shot, a parrot flew by and I hit it in the air and it passed away. I got my mind off it and focused on my game after that,” she said.
“I never really expected to play like this. Really, I wasn’t striking it very well today, but the score somehow turned out pretty good.”
The half-way cut was made at one-over 145. The 2019 Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, top English amateur Sophie Lamb and Morocco’s Maha Haddioui were among the notables who missed on the weekend.
Featuring a blend of youth and experience, the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic promises to deliver another shining example of the winds of change across the Ladies European Tour when the tournament gets underway on Wednesday.
Bursting at the seams with talent, young prodigies such as Georgia Hall, Angel Yin, Aditi Ashok, Charley Hull, Camille Chevalier, Celine Boutier and Klara Spilkova will go out with a slew of seasoned campaigners, providing first class golf entertainment for fans at the Emirates Golf Club.
In a buoyant mood after racking up six top-10s, including a second at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, England’s Hall has already assured herself the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit title.
France’s Chevalier, the winner of the Hero Women’s Indian Open, still has some work to do before sealing the Rookie of the Year honours.
In one of the major highlights of the tournament, In-Kyung Kim will be looking to wrap up her season with another successful shot at the title and become only the third multiple winner of the season-ending Ladies European Tour event in Dubai.
Come & watch world class women’s golf from December 6 – 9. A great family day out. Entry is FOC pic.twitter.com/eeaEALxHxR
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 3, 2017
Kim, the winner of the Ricoh Women’s British Open, who first won the event in 2009, will have her work cut out as the 108-player field is packed with potential winners, who will be itching to step up to the plate and challenge the South Korean ace.
The grand dame of the women’s game, Laura Davies, American powerhouse Brittany Lincicome, Hull, Lee-Anne Pace and Catriona Matthew, the first woman to be included in Scottish golf’s Hall of Fame, will be among the strong contenders for the redesigned winner’s trophy that emulates the look and feel of the iconic Dallah, the symbol of supremacy at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
How the script unfolds, only time will tell, but one thing is sure, the tournament will throw up some enduring memories to add to its catalogue of classic moments.
Providing a distinct ‘local’ flavour to the event will be Morocco’s Maha Haddioui, the first Arab golfer to ply her trade on the Ladies European Tour.
And she believes a good showing from her could well mark a watershed moment for women’s golf in the Arab world.
“It’s a little girl’s dream, even if you are 28, you still have a dream to win in the region — Dubai or Morocco. It’s something really strong in my heart,” she said.
“If that happens it will sort of inspire other women in the Arab world to take up golf,” added Haddioui.
Rookie of the Year rankings ahead of the season ending Omega Dubai Ladies Classic
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) December 5, 2017