The penultimate event in the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series, organised by Worldwide Golf and Sixteen10, was the biggest yet as golfers and non-golfers alike threw their weight behind the DSA Open at Emirates Golf Club.
The presence of a certain Liverpool FC and Leeds United legend by the name of Gary McAllister may have had something to do with that as more than 90 golfers and 170 evening dinner guests attended what was a day to remember.
The former Scotland captain, who won the treble with Liverpool and the Old First Division title with Leeds, showed as much class off the pitch as he did during his playing days, literally ‘kicking off’ proceedings with a footgolf challenge on the driving range before rotating between the different groups on the course, playing a hole and chatting with each player before entertaining the evening guests with a captivating Q&A about his footballing days.
“It’s been a fantastic event; the golf course was in immaculate condition and it’s been a tough test for everybody but I’m sure they enjoyed it,” said McAllister, who sadly lost first wife Denise to breast cancer in 2006. “But the main reason we are here is to try and raise money for charity and help raise awareness for the people who suffer from this horrible disease.
“I had a horrendous time after losing my wife to breast cancer ten years ago but my word of encouragement to people who are involved in cancer is that you can get out of the other end and you can look forward.
“There is a lot of fighting to be done and tough treatment to go through but I would say there is light at the end of the tunnel. The medicine today gives people a better quality of life who are living with cancer.”
The event offered the final chance for golfers to qualify for the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series Grand Final, the Mike Clark Golf Day and after a day of great golf and even better fun, it was Christian Reynolds who took top spot after racking up 37 Stableford points on the famous Majlis course. A card countback was required to decide the runner-up after Mark Rix and John Coll each returned 36 points. Rix had the better back nine and thus took second place to Coll’s third but both, and indeed all three, had equal reason to smile after bagging the three Grand Final spots on offer.
Mike Clark Golf Day
Taking the spoils in the professional division was Andrew Burmester who produced an impressive round of 71 and will now join the other qualifiers in the Mike Clark Golf Day at Jumeirah Golf Estates on October 26th.
“What an unbelievable day,” said Steve Kelshaw, Managing Director of title sponsors DSA Architects. “For people to come out and support us like they’ve done has been so pleasing.
“I think everyone had a great time with Gary McAllister playing a few holes him and listening to his hilarious stories from his playing days.
“Gary is a great man and I think the guys have loved his interaction with them.
“There was a lot of hard work the build-up to the event but it’s been so worthwhile and we are delighted with how it’s gone.”
DSA proved to be very much ‘hands-on’ in their role as title sponsors, reaching out to their client database to garner further support and helping the event, which also featured a live and silent auction, raise a staggering US$25,000 for charity partners Friends of Cancer Patients and The Pink Caravan which will go directly towards the care of two patients, Waleed Osman, who was at DSA Open to lend his support, and a two year old boy with leukemia who needs to raise US$55,000 for his treatment.
“We want to set the benchmark for everybody and our team at DSA are already saying next year they would like to be involved, which we certainly will be,” added Kelshaw. “We are potentially going to set the bar even higher. We’re delighted and very grateful to all our business colleagues who came in as sponsors and hopefully it’s a model that the organisers will buy into to get other people involved in their day.”
Ping Long Drive
As well as the Mike Clark Golf Day qualification spots there were plenty of on-course prizes up for grabs with some wonderful equipment and experiences donated by sponsors. A Ping Long Drive that was held on the range prior to play was won by Andrew Burmester who received a Ping G driver from local distributor Prosports International. Al Futtaim Automall also donated a driver for straightest drive which was won by Paul Murnaghan on the ninth hole while another Ping G was bagged by Nick Pomeroy for longest drive on the third sponsored by EW Cox.
Three nearest the pin contests saw James Toy win two nights half-board at Nikki Beach Resort on the 11th; Naema Maya win a TaylorMade putter on the 15th courtesy of Hertz and the one and only Steve Kelshaw win 3 x 45 minute lessons with an Emirates Golf Club Pro, one month’s unlimited driving range access and nine holes on the EGC Academy Course courtesy of Prosperity for hitting it stiff on the 17th.
“I’d just like to thank DSA Architects, they have done a great job in pulling together their clients and contacts to bring items for the raffle, auction and sponsors,” said Reza Sazegar, Managing Director of Sixteen10, Worldwide Golf’s partners in running the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series. “They have almost made it like a grand final and hopefully set the benchmark for future sponsors and qualifiers.
“I’d like to encourage people to get involved in the Mike Clark Golf Day and/or evening celebrity dinner and help us unite the local community to fight this awful illness”
The three qualifiers and pro Burmester will now head to Jumeirah Golf Estates where they will join the 16 other players who booked their grand final spots at the four previous Swing Against Cancer Golf Series Qualifiers at Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club; Abu Dhabi Golf Club, The Els Club and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.
There they will join paying competitors and a top class celebrity line up consisting of legendary English football manager Harry Redknapp, former England rugby captain Mike Tindall and 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell. While the pros will play for AED 5,000 and a 5-star golf holiday, the amateurs will be contesting a phenomenal DP World Tour Championship themed prize.
The winner of the Swing Against Cancer Golf Series will be treated to a ‘money can’t buy’ golf experience which will see them teeing it up alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Matt Fitzpatrick in the Rolex Pro-Am for the DP World Tour Championship. It doesn’t end there either – the winning player will also receive hospitality tickets to the tournament, an invitation to the players’ beach party, a two-night stay at Atlantis, The Palm – where the Race to Dubai’s top 60 players will also be staying – and a golf lesson with renowned coach to the stars, Pete Cowen – the technician behind the swings of multiple Major winners. The golf day will be followed by a glitzy gala dinner with three hours of free drinks and a DJ while the celebrities will entertain guests with a Q&A session while more top class lots will be up for grabs in the charity auction with the target of raising US$100,000 for Friends of Cancer Patients and The Pink Caravan.
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Campbell, one of the European Tour’s best-loved players said: “One of my philosophies in life is, ‘we are born with two hands, one to receive and one to give back’, something that my grandmother taught me when I was young. So, when an opportunity like this comes along it’s nice that in some shape or form I can make a difference.”
Prior to heading back to the UK after a day to remember at the DSA Open, McAllister said: “From what I’ve seen today it can only be a good thing if you get involved in the Grand Final, there’s a feel-good factor of being part of something that’s helping unfortunate people.”