DP World Tour Championship a month away as ceremonial tee shot takes place at Jumeirah Golf Estates

Matt Jones - Editor 20:28 16/10/2017
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Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi takes the ceremonial tee shot.

A superb 236-yard drive with the back end of a right-handed club from left-handed golfer Ismail Sharif was the highlight as Jumeirah Golf Estates marked a month to go until the DP World Tour Championship with a ceremonial tee shot on the Earth course on Monday.

His Excellency Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, hit the opening ceremonial shot from the first tee ahead of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai curtain closer beginning on November 16.

A total of $8million (Dh29.3m) is up for grabs at the season-ending showpiece to crown the European Tour’s No 1 player following an arduous campaign spanning 47 tournaments in 26 countries.

To mark the official run in to the event Sheikh Al Qasimi fired a straight drive of 195 yards, but watched on as Sharif, known as the ‘forefather of UAE golf’, surpassed his effort by 41 yards when he realised there was no left-handed club for him to use.

This will be the ninth year that Jumeirah Golf Estates will host the event and CEO Yousuf Kazim insists the venue is always striving to improve the tournament experience for visitors.

“This is the ninth year hosting this tournament here and it is a very important venue for not just JGE but the whole Emirate of Dubai,” said Kazim.

“We attracted 65,000 people to the tournament last year and it was broadcasted to over  500,000,000 people around the world, so this shows we need to take this challenge further and exceed ourselves and the service we offer our customers who attend the event.

“This year we are upgrading all our facilities so they enjoy it even  more. So they can come in and enjoy the event as well as the facilities – like the village. Which has a kids’ zone, food and beverage stands and other facilities.

“This is something that makes us different and with the organisers, the European Tour, it is a constant challenge to make sure we are meeting customers’ expectations.”

Nick Tarratt, the European Tour’s Dubai-based director said excitement is building as they count down to one of Dubai’s most popular sporting events of the year.

“I’m very excited for the tournament. We’ve been planning for 11 months and now we’re a month away we’re ready for four weeks’ time,” he said.

There are four events remaining on the 2017 European Tour calendar, including the HSBC Champions, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Challenge and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Englishman Tyrrell Hatton won the Italian Open on Sunday, which earned him 990,398 points and saw him move from 11th to fifth in the Race to Dubai rankings.

Compatriot Tommy Fleetwood still leads the way with 3,974,247 points, followed by Spanish duo Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm.

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