Saturday, 30 January 2010
It was an ‘old pals act’ of the highest order that became the centrepiece of The Invitational hosted by Abdullah Al Naboodah at the Creek Golf & Yacht Club as Lee Westwood, The 2009 Race to Dubai and Dubai World Championship winner, shared the Individual professional prize with his best friend and ISM stablemate Darren Clarke.
European Tour Player of the Year Westwood was back to his brilliant best and Clarke showed signs of returning to the form that won him two World Golf Championships as the Englishman and Irishman both shot course record-breaking rounds of 8-under 63.
Westwood also partnered his good friend, event host Abdullah Al Naboodah, to take first place in the Professional-Amateur team event with a 9-under 62.
Clarke partnered George Horan, Deputy Managing Director of Premier Partners to The Invitational, Dubai Duty Free, to take third place with a 63, losing out on a one-shot countback for second place to professional Richard Green and amateur James Collins, who qualified through a Golden Ticket at the Worldwide Golf Midweek Open earlier this month.
Sam Walker won longest Drive for the professionals, while Farbod Dowlatshahi of Premier Partners Delwood had the Longest Drive for the amateurs (0-14) with Stewart McIntyre taking the 15+ prize. Westwood joked at the excellent prize-giving ceremony at the Park Hyatt Hotel that: “the secret to winning the team event was choosing the right partner – and Abdullah chose me.”
Joint winner Clarke thanked all the pros for supporting Abdullah and the event and commented that the field equalled the best Tour Pro-Ams. Abdullah Al Naboodah thanked the professionals for turning out in force and making The Invitational a day to remember and also thanked the Premier Partners, Partners and Official Suppliers for making it possible to stage the event.
A live auction raised a magnificent Dh750,000 for the two benefiting charities, Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs and the Dubai Autism Centre.
At the prize giving ceremony Clarke said he had never played in an invitational event where the fun factor affected everyone from the sponsors to the players to the spectators. Throughout the day the banter and laughter between the players and supporting spectators made this a day to remember.
One young lady who won’t forget the occasion was ten year-old Amelia McKee, who qualified as the leading female player and junior at the Worldwide Golf Midweek Open earlier this month. Amelia was a sensation as she kept pace with her playing partners Jean-Francois Luquin, James Collins and Richard Green. Her team partner, Frenchman Jean-Francois, commented: “She’s an amazing girl and a phenomenal talent.”
The 50 European Tour Professional players, who numbered seven of the top ten in the 2009 Race to Dubai ratings and 22 of the top 50 agreed this was the most enjoyable invitational they had ever played and the joint winners, Westwood and Clarke both said they couldn’t wait for next year’s Invitational.
The Invitational Media Release