Europe's finest golfers help launch new AP watch in Dubai

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Dream team: CEO François-Henry Bennahmias (3rd R) with AP ambassadors.

Some of the finest professional golfers in the world, including Sweden’s world No6 Henrik Stenson, Race to Dubai No2 Danny Willett and European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, took part in the Audemars Piguet-hosted Golf Invitational event at The Els Club.

– R2D: Mcllroy secures Dubai double

– R2D: Sullivan reflects on Dubai heroics

– VIDEO: Golf industry's $113m wealth in Dubai
– Woods: Tiger named as one of America's Ryder Cup vice-captains

Featuring a Dream Team of eight of Audemars Piguet’s world famous golf ambassadors, the private Pro-Am event was also the occasion to launch their new Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in Yellow Gold, which shown for the first time in Dubai prior to its official launch at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) this coming January.

The other golfers who took part in the event were Victor Dubuisson, Ian Poulter, Peter Uihlein, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger and the 21-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick, who was invited to complete the field.

François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet presented the Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher watch, launched earlier this year, to Dubuisson, Poulter and Stenson, who are all known for their love of motorsport and fast cars.

Record crowd witness Rory McIlroy win DPWTC title
Great response: This year’s DPWTC drew record crowd to the Earth course.

This year’s DP World Tour Championship, which finished on Sunday with Rory McIlroy completing his Dubai double, drew record crowds of 65,280 fans to the Jumeirah Golf Estates.

The season-ending finale, which was accorded a five star rating by Dubai Sports Council last week, lived up to its reputation once again, with a wide variety of entertainment and eating options making it a social occasion for families.

A whopping 20,769 spectators turned out on Friday, while almost as many, 19,058, attended on Saturday.

Nick Tarratt, Director, European Tour International – Dubai Office, said: “It’s great to be able to announce record attendance figures for the tournament.

“We always felt there was genuine interest from the local, regional and international markets from both advanced registrations from free admission as well as from corporate hospitality sales.”

Global duty free staff get together for Golf World Cup
Colm McLoughlin (3rd R) with winners of last year’s DDF Golf World Cup.

Representatives from the worldwide duty free industry are in Dubai to mark the 23rd running of the Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup. Over 100 players will vie for the top spot today and tomorrow when it is played at the Al Badia Golf Club and Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, respectively.

The two-day tournament was initiated 23 years ago as a way of bringing together representatives of the duty free industry for a few days of friendly competition. This year’s event has attracted over 60 overseas players, with the remaining players living in the UAE and Gulf region. Over the two decades, the tournament has grown into one of the most popular industry golfing events on the duty free calendar.

Commenting on the forthcoming tournament, Colm McLoughlin, executive vice-chairman of Dubai Duty Free, said: “I am happy to say that the response to this year’s tournament has been excellent. The competition has gone from strength to strength over the years and we are delighted that some of our players have participated every year since 1993.

“The players enjoy the atmosphere of friendly competition, and the social interaction makes it a good meeting place for those involved in the duty fee industry.”

The tournament takes place after the Middle East & Africa Duty Free Association (MEADFA) conference every year.

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Paige Spiranac set for new chapter at Dubai Ladies Masters

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Paige Spiranac will face the likes of defending champion Shanshan Feng next month.

Paige Spiranac, the well-known American internet golf sensation, will spearhead a new crop of social media-savvy players aiming to take the fairways by storm when she makes her maiden appearance in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters next month.

With more than 454,000 followers on Instagram and 483,000 on Twitter, Spiranac makes regular appearances on TV shows and is an established name in the US.

– R2D: Mcllroy secures Dubai double
– R2D: Sullivan reflects on Dubai heroics
– VIDEO: Golf industry’s $113m wealth in Dubai
– Woods: Tiger named as one of America’s Ryder Cup vice-captains

The 22-year-old’s game is trending in the right direction, having been part of the San Diego University team that won the 2015 Mountain West Conference Golf Championship and winning the Colorado State Match Play recently.

With her confidence on a high, Spiranac promises to light up the tournament with her flair, exuberance and a classical swing when she joins a star-studded field led by defending champion Shanshan Feng.

The daughter of Dan Spiranac, who was a member of the 1976 Pittsburgh National Championship football team, Spiranac took to golf after a vaulting accident cut short her gymnastics career when she was just 12.

Gymnastics’ loss is a big gain for women’s golf’s as Spiranac has set her sights on the LPGA Tour. It remains to be seen how far she gets in her ambition of becoming the best female golfer in the world, but her good looks, love of fashion and social networking skills have already made her popular with the fans. 

“I am very excited about making my first trip to Dubai and it will be fun playing in a tournament that always boasts a strong field with some of the top players from both sides of the Atlantic joining the starting line-up,” said Spiranac. 

“I have heard many great things about Dubai as a city, but also about the golf there, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it for myself. I am grateful to golf in DUBAi for believing in me. Their invitation to play in the tournament has set my dreams on fire.

“I have great respect for players on the Ladies European Tour (LET), and competing alongside them will be a big learning curve. I am sure it will be a great week.”

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, who are the promoters and organisers of the event, said: “Paige is like a breath of fresh air and one who has all the attributes to become a strong ambassador for the future of women’s golf.

“She belongs to a new breed of golfers who are fun-loving and proactive on social media, bringing a vibrant atmosphere to the course, which is great.

“As the great Greg Norman said the other day, in this digital age, the game must open up to ‘savvy, social media types’ to attract new talent to the sport. I am on the same page as the Great White Shark as, I believe, it will just be a sign of the times in an ever-changing world.”

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Sullivan still smiling despite one-shot defeat to McIlroy

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Proud performance: Andy Sullivan was a model of consistency.

Andy Sullivan may have been beaten by the brilliance of Rory McIlroy, but even the narrow one-shot loss wasn’t going to take that smile away from the Englishman’s face.

Sullivan started the final day one shot ahead of McIlroy and played well enough on the front nine to increase the gap to three shots at one stage, but failed to sustain his momentum as the world No3 fought back on the closing stretch.

– R2D: Mcllroy secures Dubai double
– R2D: Sullivan reflects on Dubai heroics

– VIDEO: Golf industry’s $113m wealth in Dubai
– Woods: Tiger named as one of America’s Ryder Cup vice-captains

It would have been a fourth win of the season for the 28-year-old Sullivan, but he could make only one birdie on the back nine, which wasn’t enough to deny McIlroy.

Sullivan, who finished eighth in the Race to Dubai, climbing from 21st at the start of the week, is also expected to move into the top 50 of the world rankings when they are released Monday. If he manages to stay inside the 50 by the end of the year, it would gain him a first entry into the Masters.

And the man who won twice in South Africa at the start of the season and the Portugal Masters last month, said: “Just to come up head-to-head with someone of Rory’s quality, it was absolutely awesome and something that will stick with me for a long time going forward.

“For me it doesn’t really get any better than this maybe. Maybe one shot better and maybe take him to a playoff.

“I gave it everything on that front nine, I just couldn’t quite get the putts to drop on the back nine. I’ve got so much to take from this week, both the way I’ve played and how I’ve handled it.

“For me, it’s about doing it on a more consistent basis and getting up there and trying to get in the last group with Rory more often.”

Sullivan said he fully expected McIlroy to hole the long putt for bogey on the 17th, especially after giving him such a good read with his own putt.

“I thought, I’m back in it when he hit that tee shot on the 17th. I thought I’ve got a chance again,” said Sullivan.

“But I gave him a great teach on my putt. He got a real good read. I’ve hit it and left it that far behind, I turned to my caddie and said: ‘I expect him to hole this’. That’s just the quality he is and the world-class performer he is.

“Even on the 18th, if I holed the putt, I thought it could go a bit further but that’s the way it goes.”

Sullivan has one more event before he wraps up his clubs for Christmas – the NedBank Challenge in two weeks in South Africa.

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