Bernd Ritthammer is hoping to evoke the memories of his last visit to Oman when the forthcoming NBO Oman Open gets underway at Al Mouj, Golf from February 15-18. The German has reason to be optimistic about his chances over the renowned Greg Norman-designed course after lifting the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final title here in 2016, which was his third victory of the season, to propel from the European Challenge Tour to the European Tour in sensational fashion.
The 30-year-old is delighted that the Sultanate will host a European Tour event for the first time and hopes to perform as well as he did in tricky windy conditions two years ago. “I was thrilled when I found out the European Tour was heading to Oman as I have such fond memories of my victory there in 2016,” said Ritthammer who believes that the NBO Oman Open is the perfect way for the country to showcase its merits to a wide global audience. “Hopefully I can perform to the same standards again.
“This event is going to appeal to such a huge global audience which can only be a good thing for Oman as it will help to develop golf there. I can’t wait to return to the country and compete on the course.”
Ritthammer is a huge admirer of the Al Mouj Golf track, with its picturesque views and complex layout, and predicts it will be a hit amongst the European Tour stars. “The course is definitely of European Tour standard with a great layout,” he said. “It is really well designed and some of the holes are spectacular with the ocean in play. You really can’t ask for anymore. I think the players are going to love this tournament which will help promote Oman to the rest of the world.”
He lost his European Tour card last season after finishing 124th in the Race to Dubai but Ritthammer is hoping a convincing performance in Muscat this week will kick-start his season as he bids to join the top tier once more. He also plans to experience all the unique activities the country has to offer away from the course on his return to the Sultanate.
“I haven’t seen too much of Oman yet but I’m hoping to change that this year,” Ritthammer admitted. “I’ve heard there are some beautiful mountains to visit so I really want to go and check them out. The snorkelling and fishing are also meant to be good fun there so hopefully I can get out and about this time around.”
The ‘Hammer’ has been practicing at the phenomenal European Tour Performance Institute at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai in preparation for the NBO Oman Open which will see him compete against a world-class field including Ryder Cup stars Robert Karlsson, Nicolas Colsaerts, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood and Stephen Gallagher along with former Open Champion Paul Lawrie (also a two-time Ryder Cup participant), 2016 Open de Espana winner Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters champion Jeunghun Wang.
Entry to the tournament is free of charge and there will be plenty of activities golf lovers and non-golfers alike with entertainment for all the family. There will be bouncy castles for the children, free golf lessons, and regular shows from the hilarious Trick Shot Boys who have been visiting local schools in Muscat this week to give the children a taste of what to expect from their hilarious and bedazzling shows at the event.