Woods in the Desert
Where better to build your first golf course than the worlds biggest building site, Dubai. One of seven emirates which make-up the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is undergoing huge growth at the present, especially in relation to tourism. Golf courses and hotels are springing up like rabbits all over the place. Woods is no stranger to the area; he captured a victory at the Dubai Desert Classic this year, a tournament which has grown into one of the European Tours premiere events. Woods project is part of Dubailand, which will encompass his course, a clubhouse, and residential and retail environments. The project is expected to reach conclusion in 2009 (industry insiders tell me the area will be a golf tourism Mecca by the time the project is a few years old). Woods has played the Dubai Desert Classic for three straight seasons; next years event is played the same week as the FBR Open on the PGA TOUR.
Clarke Not a Sports Personality - Yet
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is a very high honour to us Brits. Voted on by the public at the end of the year, it makes for some thrilling Sunday evening viewing as the winner is announced in a lengthy year-in-review type program. This year, Darren Clarke was a favorite to win, but was eventually beaten-out by Zara Philips, daughter of Princess Anne and the reigning European and World Equestrian champion. Without sounding too harsh, Im glad Darren didnt take the title this year; it would have been born from sympathy rather than his achievements on the course which were obviously affected by the problems in his home-life. Clarke is one of Britains most talented golfers and should hopefully bring home a major title in the next couple of seasons, and then he will be a worthy of BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Fisher the Next Big Star
I had the opportunity to follow Oliver Fisher for a few holes this summer at the Open Championship International Qualifier at Sunningdale. His ball striking was first class and although he didnt make it through the qualifier, he seems like the real deal as they say. He wont be overjoyed by his first tournament result ' weekend rounds of 77 and 75 put him well down the order in South Africa, but Fisher is a star of the future. He was the Faldo Junior Series champion and seems to be following the path of fellow Faldo winner Nick Dougherty, who went through the Q-school to become European Tour Rookie of the Year in 2002.
A South and Central American Challenge
In an effort to give its members more playing opportunities, the Challenge Tour is already up and running for the 2007 season. The tour went to Argentina at the beginning of December and Mexico last week. Although not official yet, it seems the first three events of the calendar year of 07 will also be in Central and South America. What does this mean? Well, look out for more of the regions golfers to creep through on to the European Tour in years to come.
Walking to Victory
The R&A announced a 22-man squad for the 2007 Walker Cup last week. Despite players like Robert Dinwiddie, Oliver Fisher and Ross McGowan turning pro, it seems the squad will be plenty healthy for the matches in September. Rory Mcllroy is the young stud among the bunch. The Irish teenager won the European Amateur Championship this seasons and so far has avoided the temptation of turning professional, aided by the fact that hell be able to play in the Open Championship next season if he remains an amateur.
The first stage of the Asian Tour qualifying school was inundated with British players. I counted almost 25 percent of the competitors to be from the UK. The tour was the breeding ground of Simon Dyson, who recently used it as a stepping stone for the European Tour. With tours springing up in India and China this year, maybe Asia could become a great way to develop as a professional.
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