Trump Dubai designer delighted with course

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The 17th hole at the new Trump Dubai course.

Hanse was in Dubai to have a final look at the golf course, which is expected to open to the public sometime in February next year.

The golf course is ready to play, but the final touches are being given to the futuristic-looking clubhouse.

And Hanse, who designed the Olympic course in Rio as golf made a triumphant return to the Games, said: “The golf course is right where I’d like to see it. I am thrilled with how it is looking. It just fills me with a sense of immense pride at what the team has been able to achieve.

“We started here with a very blank landscape, one that was hemmed in by developments. We had definition for the ground, but almost no definition in the ground. So, to come up with this, I am really proud.”

So, what can you expect at Trump Dubai? It is a par-71 course that extends to 7,229 yards from the tips. The first thing that strikes you is how wide the fairways are, followed by the distinct lack of rough around the greens and fairways. Even though protected by real estate at most places, there is a strong wind that blows at most of the time. The greens are of varying sizes and most of them have strong slopes.

What will golfers find different at Trump Dubai compared to other UAE courses?

“I think one of the things that I have been told is unique to Dubai are the tees. There are no defined Strategic nature of landscape makes Akoya stand out Hanse angles for distinctive course in UAE tee boxes. There are just large areas of grass that flow through and merge right into the fairways. That’s a different look and feel for
the course,” said Hanse.

“I think the native landscape materials that we have used – the trees, the bushes, the grass – bring a real desert feel. Even the landforms are beautifully shaped and inspired by the desert.

“We have tried to give a rustic feel to the golf course. The fairways are wide. There is a reliance on short grass to provide a lot of character around the greens. To hit a recovery shot with the putter around the green is fun for most golfers. I think the key word that we have really focused here is fun.”

Even though the fairways are magnanimous in size, Hanse draws comparison with Augusta National Golf Club course to explain why being wide does not mean it is easy.

“Wide fairways are part of our philosophy. It’s something that we have done on the Olympic golf course as well. We like to give players room to play off the tee, but to score out here, you’ve got to hit much more precise tee shots,” said the man who also redesigned the legendary Blue Monster course at Doral.

“What we tried to do in Rio and what we tried to do here. It is our core belief that angles matter.

“Augusta National is a perfect example of that. It’s wide golf course off the tee, but to score, you’ve got to hit the correct part of the fairway, and then when you hit the greens, you’ve got to be in the proper quarter of the green. So, the level of precision is pretty high for a very wide golf course.”

You can’t help but ask Hanse – what has been the reaction of Mr Donald Trump?

“I haven’t heard much from him. I think he has been pretty busy with some other things!” said Hanse.

“Larry Glick, his Vice-President of Golf Division, was here and I am sure he will give him all the report. I am sure I will get to know soon what he thinks. But I am sure even he will be proud of this.”

Membership is now being offered by Trump Dubai. For information, call +971 4 4289800.

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Johnson in lead at Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

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On a day when no other player in the field managed to break 70 in windy conditions, England’s Felicity Johnson shot a bogey-free eight-under par 64 to come out of nowhere and grabbed a two-shot lead after the second round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.

One-over par 73 after her opening round, the 29-year-old from Birmingham made the most of her red-hot irons as she made eight birdies – four on either side of the golf course – to finish on seven-under par 137, two better than overnight leader, England’s Florentyna Parker (72).

India’s Aditi Ashok, the prodigal 18-year-old who could match a 27-year-old record on the Ladies European Tour with a third consecutive victory, shot a two-under par 70 and kept herself in contention.

Ashok was tied third at four-under par along with Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen (71). If she wins on Saturday, she will equal the record of France’s Marie-Laure de Lorenzi, who won three straight titles in 1989.

Defending champion Shanshan Feng could not make a desired move, even though her 70, along with that of six others, was the second best score of the day. The Chinese world No4, the highest ranked player in the field, was tied 13th at two-under par.

But the story of the day was Johnson. Not having the best of seasons on the Tour, she is currently ranked 54th in the Order of Merit, having made only seven cuts in 12 starts. Her previous best this year was a tied second finish in New Zealand, right at the beginning of the season.

However, the two-time winner on the LET could feel her form coming back, especially with a 66 during the final stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School last week.

On Friday though, she just could do no wrong.

“I hit a lot of really close iron shots. I holed out really well with my putts but I had probably had seven birdie putts within four feet, so that always makes the game a little bit easier,” said Johnson.

“All the ones I hit close, I converted, so just 24 putts. Hitting a lot of good iron shots, you’re going to have a good score.”

Johnson, who started with four birdies in her first five holes, was happy to be in the position she was in, hoping to win her first title since the 2011 Lacoste Ladies Open de France.

“It’s only a three-round event, so you try to put yourself in a good position heading into the final day. I think I did that pretty well today,” she added.

Parker made three birdies and three bogeys in her round of 72, and said she is expecting nothing less than a victory.

The 27-year-old has her mother, Gina, is on her bag this week, and that would be a good omen as the Englishwoman’s last win in 2014 Italian Open came with the same ‘caddie’.

“She has no idea about golf. In fact, I tell her where to stand. That’s what we talk about, where to stand for the next shot and not be in anyone’s way. We just talk about non-golf things,” said Parker, who is fourth in the Order of Merit this year without any win.

“The only thing I haven’t done this year is win and that’s all I’m going to do tomorrow. And I’m just going to go for it. That’s what I’ve got to do. Even if I finish second or third, I’m not really interested.”

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Tragedy at Dubai Ladies Masters as caddie dies

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French player Anne-Lise Caudal is consoled in Dubai.

Tragedy struck day one of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters when caddie Max Zechmann collapsed and later died in the hospital. The incident led to the Ladies European Tour and organisers ‘golf in DUBAi’ to suspend the opening round.

At approximately 10:00am GST, Zechmann – who was caddying for French player Anne-Lise Caudal – slumped on the fairway of the 13th hole. He was attended by the paramedics of the golf course, before being rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Play was first suspended for one at 10.30am as officials waited for news, and later, for the whole day.

Austrian native Zechmann, 56, was a former caddie on the European Tour where he carried the bag for compatriot Marcus Brier and German Marcel Siem.

He is believed to have retired in 2014 and moved to Dubai. He wasn’t a regular caddie on the Ladies European Tour, and is said to have been a ‘walk-in’ to assist Caudal for the week.

Zechmann is survived by his wife Eleanor, and three sons.

In a statement released, LET CEO Ivan Khodabakhsh said: “Everyone at the Ladies European Tour is extremely shocked and saddened today by this sudden death and therefore we have taken the decision to suspend first round play as a mark of respect.

“On behalf of our membership, we offer heartfelt condolences to the individual’s family and loved ones.”

Later, speaking to Sport360, Khodabaksh added: “I don’t think it was a difficult decision (to suspend play). As soon as we understood it was serious case, we then decided to suspend play in order to collect the facts and understand what’s going on.

“We don’t want players to be traumatised and also, it was out of respect for the person involved so we could provide our full attention to the case.”

Khodabaksh said he had spoken Caudal after the incident and added: “I’ve been speaking to a number of players and of course, I spoke to Anne-Lise. Without question, she was pretty shocked and shaken. She’s surrounded by her many friends right now. But yes, it’s tragic to see somebody like that.”

American Beth Allen, leading the Order of Merit this week, said she completely understood the decision by the organisers to suspend day’s play under the circumstances.

“I hundred per cent agree with the decision that was made out of respect for him and his family. I don’t think anybody has any qualms about it,” said Allen.

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi said: “We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Mr Zechmann. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. May his soul rest in peace.”

In the time play was possible in the opening round, England’s Florentyna Parker had raced to seven-under par after nine holes, while Cheyenne Woods was four-under par after six. Australia’s Witney Hillier made a hole-in-one on the fourth hole and was three-under par after five.

Round one will resume Thursday and the tournament will now be played over 54 holes.

Sport360 reporter Joy Chakravarty covered the immensely sad developments on Twitter.

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