UAE’s Skaik to rub shoulders with world’s best golfers in Abu Dhabi - GulfToday

UAE’s Skaik to rub shoulders with world’s best golfers in Abu Dhabi

Golf UAE

Ahmad Skaik had the honour of hitting the first shot at the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World in December 2020.

UAE’s No.1 golfer Ahmad Skaik is all set to go head-to-head against a selection of the world’s best golfers at this year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship -- the first Rolex Series event of the 2021 Race to Dubai season -- to be hosted at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club from Jan.21-24.

The 23-year-old Emirati golfer, who has received the UAE National Amateur invite on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, has gone from strength to strength following his European Tour debut at last year’s Championship, winning the 2020 UAE Presidents Cup in impressive style last February before clinching two Men’s Open tiles to finish as runner-up in the EGF Order of Merit rankings.

As leading UAE National Amateur, Skaik also had the honour of hitting the first shot at the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship presented by DP World in December 2020, where he put in a steady performance at his second European Tour event.

Skaik heads into next week’s tournament relishing the opportunity to play alongside Ryder Cup stars and Major champions Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas with renewed confidence following the hard work that has gone into his game over the last year.

“It is a privilege to receive the invitation to return to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, said Skaik. “It was an incredible experience last year and a pivotal learning curve in my career. I can’t wait to go back and give my all alongside some of the best players in the world.

“It was great to get out at the Golf in Dubai Championships a few weeks ago, and it was a huge honour to hit the first tee shot on UAE National Day.

“I can take some vital lessons from those rounds into next week. Given it is the 50th anniversary of the UAE it is even more special to play in this tournament, and I’m determined to put in a performance to make my nation proud.”

Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, added: “We are delighted to welcome back Ahmad to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. He is the shining star of Emirati golf and destined for great things in the future.”

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is being hosted at the iconic Abu Dhabi Golf Club for the 16th consecutive year with a prize fund of $8 million and 8,000 Race to Dubai points available.

YOUNG STARS DESCEND ON DUBAI: The latest crop of young stars to emerge on the European Tour will be aiming to add to their burgeoning trophy cabinets as the prestigious Dallah trophy is once again up for grabs at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic from Jan.28-31.

Reigning Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Sami Välimäki will be joined by fellow first-time winners from the 2020 season; Robert MacIntyre, Romain Langasque, Min Woo Lee and Rasmus Højgaard, all looking to take the next step in their careers at one of the Tour’s most prestigious tournaments.

Big-hitting South African Wilco Nienaber will also tee it up with the aim of emulating his illustrious compatriot Ernie Els by winning his maiden European Tour titles at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

While the tournament can boast the likes of Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie among its past winners, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic has been a breeding ground for upcoming talent, with Els (1994) and Rory McIlroy (2009) breaking through on the Majlis.

Välimäki’s ascent has been rapid. After earning his European Tour card through Qualifying School in November 2019, he won on his sixth start on Tour at last year’s Oman Open and went on to finish 11th in the Race to Dubai.

Earlier this month he was named the ‘Breakthrough Athlete of the Year’ at the Finnish Sports Personality of the Year awards.

“Last season I achieved the main goal I had, which was to win and get a better category on Tour, and now I can’t wait to make my Omega Dubai Desert Classic debut this year,” said the 22-year-old from Finland.

“To be able to progress to this point after only turning professional in 2019 is something I’m very proud of and I want to keep going and keep improving. I know this is an important event in the world of golf when you look at some of the past winners and it would be amazing to join them.”

MacIntyre was named the 2019 Rookie of the Year after he had three runner-up finishes and he broke through late on in 2020 with victory at the Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown. Now the 24-year-old is ready to kick-on and underline his status as one of Europe’s rising stars.

An elite field has been assembled for this year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, with a host of Major champions and Ryder Cup stars including Collin Morikawa, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter all set to mix it with the stars of tomorrow.

In what is the 32nd staging of the tournament, attendance will be for invited guests only but the action will be beamed to a worldwide audience on mainstream broadcast sports networks.

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