Muscat, The Sultanate will once again reap the rewards of hosting a major international sporting event when the stars of the European Tour touch down for the 2020 Oman Open at the stunning Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf in Muscat, from February 27 � March 1st.
Now in its third year, the highly-regarded event has witnessed two great winners with Joost Luiten taking the inaugural title in 2018 before Kurt Kitayama sensationally sealed last year's trophy during a challenging week at Al Mouj Golf. A world-class line-up is expected again this year, with 2019 Oman Open runner-up Maximilian Kieffer from Germany revealing that he's relishing the challenge of going one better when he revisits Oman next month.
"I'm excited to return to Muscat in February, said Kieffer. Al Mouj Golf is a great golf course and I kind of have unfinished business after my tied second place finish last year. Hopefully I can finish one place further up this year."
Also confirmed is British Amateur champion James Sugrue, whose appearance will mark his European Tour debut; 2014 Hong Kong Open winner Scott Hend; and rising star Adri Arnaus, who enjoyed a stellar rookie season on Tour last year having won the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2018 to gain promotion.
Local players will gain vital experience in the tournament playing against some of the world's best golfers with winner of the upcoming OHI Oman Amateur Open as well as the leading Omani amateur on the World Amateur Golf Rankings each receiving spots in the field. In addition, the victor of the Mena Tour's Ghala Open, played at Ghala Golf Club the week prior to the Oman Open will be invited to join the field.
I'm delighted to be returning to Al Mouj Golf for the Oman Open, said Arnaus, who finished runner-up on three occasions last season. The course is a real test and one of the best in the Middle East and we get treated really well when we visit the Sultanate. The people in Oman are so friendly and welcoming so it's a tournament that I'm really looking forward to playing on my schedule for this season.
The economic impact of Oman's biggest professional sporting occasion is considerable with the figure estimated to be around USD$26 million while a global television reach of 200 million with 1,912 hours of dedicated coverage in addition to exceptional international print and online coverage saw last year's Oman Open generate a Media Value of USD$89.4 million, up from USD$74 million in 2018, as golf fans around the world were treated to stunning visuals of the Al Mouj Golf course in its beautiful coastal setting.
The tournament, which first started life as a Challenge Tour event back in 2013, has also helped drive a change at the very top of the Sultanate's golf ecosystem with Sheikh Sa'ad bin Mohammed Al Mardhouf Al Sa'adi, Minister of Sports Affairs, announcing last month that the Oman Golf Committee, set up in January 2009, will soon be made into an official association. The transformation will see golf join the likes of football, tennis, swimming and hockey in becoming an association in the country as the Sultanate targets mass participation in the game off the back of the Oman Open.
Mundhir Al Barwani, Chairman of the Oman Golf Committee, said: It has been a long time coming and we are extremely honoured that Sheikh Al Sa'adi has given us this opportunity to become an association. This will allow us to develop and grow the game of golf in Oman and achieve greater things in the future.
Sheikh Al Sa'adi said: The achievements of the national teams at the Arab and Gulf level, and the continuous successes in hosting the Sultanate's European Tour events, as well as regional golf tournaments, give a real indication as to the development of this Olympic sport and show that we are looking at a bright future.
Last year's event saw Oman's most scenic and vibrant tourism and commerce hot-spots showcased around the Al Mouj course via stunning giant backdrops on the tee boxes and the resulting significant television and social media coverage this innovative feature generated means that it will again return for this year's tournament.
The 2019 Oman Open was mentioned a total of 2,400 times on social media with posts seen a mammoth 4.2 million times by users around the globe. Videos uploaded to online platforms were also viewed 645,000 times, generating a Net Sponsorship Value of US$449,000 on social media.
It is also hoped that golf will contribute to highlighting the beauty of Oman as a global destination for tourism and investment, added Sheikh Al Sa'adi. We wish the Omani Golf Association to achieve further success in the coming years.
The 2020 Oman Open promises to be a wonderful social occasion for all the family with a host of fun activities and food and beverage outlets in the bustling Championship Village ensuring there will be plenty to do for golf lovers and non-golf lovers alike.
Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East, European Tour said: It's wonderful to witness how much this tournament has grown over the years; starting out as a European Challenge Tour event in 2013 before being deservedly promoted to the Challenge Tour Grand Final in 2015 and then becoming a full European Tour event in 2018.
Source: Oman News Agency