The European Tour will welcome another new event to its international schedule next month when the NBO Oman Open makes its debut at the stunning Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf in Muscat from February 15-18.
A star-studded line-up including Ryder Cup stars Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood along with former Open Champion Paul Lawrie – also a two-time Ryder Cup player – and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston will tee it up in the event which provides further evidence of the Middle East’s increasing importance to the European Tour.
“I’m looking forward to playing in the 2018 NBO Oman Open in February,” said three-time European Tour winner Sullivan as the event was officially announced today at a press conference held at the National Bank of Oman headquarters, under the auspices of H.E Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy, Minister of Oil & Gas. “I’ve always enjoyed playing golf in the region and it’s exciting to play in a new country that I’ve not played before. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Oman in just a few weeks’ time.”
Biggest Professional Sports Event
The NBO Oman Open will represent the biggest professional sports event ever to be hosted in Oman and while the occasion will mark a watershed moment in the Sultanate’s history, it will actually be the sixth time a National Bank of Oman-sponsored professional golf tournament has been hosted at Al Mouj Golf, with the venue welcoming the stars of the European Challenge Tour for the past five years.
The National Bank of Oman Golf Classic was the penultimate event on the Challenge Tour schedule in 2013 and 2014 before the highly-regarded tournament received its first promotion when it was elevated to become the season-ending showpiece, NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, from 2015 to 2017.
The Sultanate became the key focus of the Challenge Tour schedule with the season-long points competition renamed the ‘Road to Oman Rankings’ and the top 45 players earning a spot in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final where they competed for a chance to win promotion to the European Tour. The event, as well as the world-class course and venue, received frequent rave reviews from players, spectators and the media and it was only a matter of time before the tournament itself was awarded European Tour promotion.
H.E Dr Al Rumhy said: “The evolution of this tournament has been of great benefit to Oman in putting the Sultanate on the world sporting map and showcasing the country’s enviable assets while at the same time significantly aiding the growth of golf here at grassroots level.”
Also teeing it up in Muscat will be Jordan Smith. The Englishman topped the Road to Oman Rankings in 2016 before making a lightening quick start to his European Tour career last year with victory in the Porsche European Open along with a further four top ten finishes as he secured a place in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai at the first time of asking.
“I’m excited to be returning to Oman and playing in the inaugural NBO Oman Open at Al Mouj Golf next month,” said Smith. “I have fond memories of Oman and winning the Road to Oman in 2016 and look forward to playing again in Muscat at Al Mouj Golf. It is a challenging golf course and I’m delighted to include Oman and the NBO Oman Open in my 2018 schedule.”