The UAE’s greatest golfing success, Sebastian Heisele, is determined to make amends in this week’s NBO Oman Open, when the European Tour makes its debut in the Sultanate at Al Mouj Golf from February 15-18, after narrowly missing out on a European Tour card there in the final event of the Challenge Tour last season before going on to gain promotion through Qualifying School.
“I came 16th on the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman last year as a result of my tied 17th finish in Oman, which meant I just missed out on qualifying for the European Tour,” said Heisele. “However, luckily I advanced through Q School and got my card that way so hopefully my time at Al Mouj Golf can be a bit more relaxing this time around!”
Although the spectacular Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf course doesn’t hold the fondest of memories for the towering 6”6’ German, he is thrilled to return and be reunited with some old friends.
“The course is certainly up to European Tour standard, it’s a very narrow course that is just off the coast so as soon as the wind picks up it can get very tricky,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing there again as it’s always nice to play on a course you know and I’ll be cheered on by some friends from Oman which will be nice.”
The 29-year-old, who finished 16th and 17th in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final in 2016 and 2017 respectively, is one of the finest products of the Emirates Golf Federation’s Junior Development Programme. He grew up in Dubai and was three-time club champion at Emirates Golf Club before going on to play on the Challenge Tour and now, the European Tour.
“When I first came to the Dubai there was next to nothing there – it was basically just a desert,” smiled Heisele, who now lives in Munich. “My Dad was here for 38 years so I have seen Dubai grow into what it has become now. I was a member at Emirates Golf Club for around six years before I left for the USA so I have a lot of good memories of Dubai and it’s always great to come back and use the world class facilities.”
Heisele who has been practicing at the Jumeirah Golf Estates’ renowned European Tour Performance Institute ahead of returning to Oman, has seen how much the Sultanate has developed over the past decade and believes hosting a European Tour event for the first time is the start of something special for golf in the country.
“It’s fantastic that the European Tour is going to Oman as they are really pushing for tourism right now so it will definitely put Oman in the spotlight for that week. Golf is getting bigger out there each year. I remember when I used to live in the Middle East there was only one sand course in Oman and now they have a few lovely courses which is great to see.”
Heisele will come up against a world-class field in Muscat that features 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 to give the children a taste of what to expect from their hilarious and bedazzling shows at the event.