This is the first time that Oman will be host to a top-tier golf tournament and the US$1.75mn event has already attracted some of the top players on the Tour.
Muscat Daily had first reported on October 1 that Oman will host the European Tour but the official announcement was made only on Tuesday at the NBO headquarters.
Though organisers have admitted that the inaugural edition of the NBO Oman Open may not feature the world’s top 50-ranked golfers, they have already received an encouraging response ahead of the January 25 deadline.
A total of 138 players from across the world including five invites and two local amateurs will tee-off on February 15, hoping to boost Oman's new-grown image of an emerging golf destination.
Leading the list of high-profile names is former Open champion and two-time Ryder Cup player Paul Lawrie of Scotland, Ryder Cup stars Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood of England.
Former winners of the NBO Golf Classic European Challenge Tour along with the winners of the Road to Oman Rankings – Jordan Smith, Ricardo Gouveia, Bernd Ritthammer and Clement Sordet, two-time Dubai Desert Classic winner Stephen
Gallagher and former Indian Open winner S S P Chawrasia have also confirmed their participation.
For the past five years, the NBO has organised the European Challenge Tour including the Challenge Tour Final over the past two seasons at Al Mouj. Having successfully organised it for past five years, NBO and the European Tour have now struck a deal for the European Tour event, giving a huge shot in the arm of Oman sports tourism.
The enhanced prize-money of US$1.75mn will provide the winner of first NBO Oman Open a purse of US$290,500. A total of 65 players will make the cut after two rounds.
Nick Tarratt, Director of the European Tour Middle East, said, “The inaugural NBO Oman Open has attracted a quality field and it underlines the growing strength of Oman as a golfing destination, thanks to the effort of NBO, the Oman government, Al Mouj Golf and the Oman Golf Committee (OGC).
“We hope the NBO Oman Open makes an impact. With a TV coverage expected to reach 400mn and expected arrival of nearly 500 visitors, the event is bound to reap fruits.”
Mundhir al Barwani, the OGC chairman, said that the “NBO Oman Open is a perfect platform to promote Oman and golf and we are looking forward to it.”
On this occasion, Hassan Abdul Amir Shaban, NBO chief government banking officer, said, “It is a matter of great pride for NBO to play a key role in putting Oman on the world golf map and hopefully, the sultanate can reap economic benefits from the event.
“Our objective is to create opportunities to support economic diversification, attracting foreign direct investments and make Oman one of the world’s leading sports destinations.”