Long Drive World Series, one of Golf’s most exciting new formats, is all set to come to Dubai for the second time at 19:00 on February 9, at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The event in Dubai is the first in the series of 10 tournaments that will be held across all the cosmopolitan cities in the world, with 16 of the world’s best, including three UAE wild cards, competing for a share of the Dh94,500 event prize pool.
Unlike regular golf, Long Drive is all about hitting a golf ball as far as you humanly can by driving, and is a visual spectacle of strength, power, and speed.
The format for this year’s contest is going to be very different from last year’s and the total points gained by each player throughout the series will determine the winner in the end.
Jamie Marland, director of operations for the Long Drive World Series, said: “This year we are going to run a little bit different from 2017, we are going to run a point-system. It won’t be the case of someone winning each and every event, but it will be more like if you finish first in one and finish second in the next one, it (the points) will accumulate and that is how we’ll decide the winner, just like Formula One."
Thabet triumphed by an impressive eight strokes with a round of 73 and career best 67 (5-under-par), scoring a competition record 140 at the weekend.
Following his heroic performance, he said the victory will give him a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.
“To win this event twice under the patronage of His Highness Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a big honour,” he said.
“Having my name carved on the trophy and to go down in UAE golf history for firing the lowest score at this event means a lot to me. My hard work is paying off and by shooting my lowest round of my career is proof of that. I knew I was mentally and physically prepared. I think the turning point was when I got three birdies in a row during my second round on 11, 12, and 13.”
He added: “Moving forward I am going to get back to the driving range and gym and continue to work on my game. I will better my game through the EGF Order of Merit in prep for National Team events. I also have my eye on making a spot on the amateur Dubai Trophy Team. I look forward to continue to represent my country locally and internationally.”
For Ahmed Skaik, he had to settle for second spot after his 148, while Hassan Al Musharrekh finished third place with a total of 157.
The event also presented players with the chance to win Net Prizes. The overall Net Winner was Abdulla Al Musharrekh with a net total of 144. The Best Net for Day One award went to Abdul Rahman Al Laggiti with a round one 62 net score, and Best Net for Day Two went to Adel Zarouni with a 66 net score.
In the ladies competition, Reema Al Heloo was crowned champion for the second year in a row after firing 167 gross score for 23-over-par.
The Ladies Overall Net winner was Eida Al Muhairbi with a net score of 146 2-over-(net)-par.
Walking away with the 2018 Junior Division title was Obaid Al Heloo, who shot 177 to claim his first ever UAE Presidents Cup victory.
He finished ahead of runner-up was Rashid Al Emadi who was three shots adrift, while the Best Junior Net prize went to Khaled Al Mutawa with a net score of 178.
In efforts to develop the game of golf within the national community the competition, sponsored by HSBC also hosted a Par 3 Championship on the Yas Links challenging Academy Course.
Eighteen members of the EGF Foundation Squad, between the ages of 8 and 15, competed in a 9-hole championship with Rashid Al Jassmy winning the event after edging his brother and runner-up Sultan Al Jassmy. Saad Al Zarouni won third place.
While all the talk after round one should have been about Rory McIlroy’s comeback and Tommy Fleetwood’s scintillating form, the name pursed on everybody’s lips was rising golf star Oscar Murphy.
The 13-year-old Irishman, who moved to the UAE capital three years ago, won a local tournament and as part of his prize, earned the opportunity to tee off alongside his idol McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
On Thursday, the Tyrone-born native joined the star-studded group of world No1 Dustin Johnson, Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood and McIlroy.
In front of a packed 15th hole at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Murphy struck a stunning tee-shot on the 177-yard par-3 – beating Fleetwood and Johnson.
“It was unbelievable,” Oscar said. “I got to walk up to the green with them and I was closer than Dustin Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood but Rory beat me to it.”
Speaking after his opening round 69, former World No1 McIlroy said he was surprised to see Oscar inside the ropes having previously met the youngster at the tournament in the capital.
He said: “He’s been following me since the 2011 PGA Championship in Atlanta and he’s at every round I play here, I feel like he’s my little mascot. He’s waiting at the back of every green and every tee box.
“Was a little surprised to see him on the tee there. I didn’t expect him to be inside the ropes today but he hit a really great shot, a really good little swing, one for the future.”