The first leg of the 2018 Gary Player Invitational global series proved that they not only excel in golf, but also generosity as Abu Dhabi’s third union of golf and giving has raised more than 238,733 AED for local event beneficiary, the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs.
Held in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, under the Patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, and taking place at the award-winning Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Monday, 29 January, the 2018 Gary Player Invitational saw golf champions, celebrities and business leaders join tournament host and sport icon Gary Player for the annual event in the Middle East.
With more than $64 million raised for charities worldwide to date, the funds from the Abu Dhabi event bring The Player Foundation closer to reaching its goal of raising $100 million for charities worldwide by 2025.
With established stars as well as the next generation of talent showing their support, the event included, along with the Black Knight, Masters Champion Trevor Immelman; 2018 European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn; Ryder Cup stars and current champions, Rafa Cabrera Bello and Matt Fitzpatrick, the UAE’s own Rayhan Thomas, as well as golf phenom and surprise entry, 13-year-old Oscar Murphy. The event’s top honours went to Portugal Masters winner Lucas Bjerregaard, who led his Al Masaood Automobiles Infiniti team to victory.
“I simply love coming to Abu Dhabi. I respect the culture and am always impressed with the various people I meet during these visits. Etihad Airways, the airport and world-class infrastructure gets better and better. And the Louvre is a stunning combination of architecture and art. Thanks to everyone for making this so special,” said The Black Knight, Gary Player.
“We were honored yet again to play a key role in bringing the Gary Player Invitational to Abu Dhabi”, said His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary, Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “The spirit of the event, and the importance of its mandate align perfectly with the vision of Abu Dhabi, and indeed the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The success of this year’s event is testament to the special place it occupies on our growing list of world-class events.”
Joining Bjerregaard, Bjorn, Cabrera Bello and Fitzpatrick in representing the professional golfers at the event were D+D Real Czech Masters champion, Haydn Porteous; 2017 Alfred Dunhill Championship winner, Brandon Stone, and Jordan Smith, winner of the Porsche European Open. Ladies European Tour professionals showing support included Olivia Cowan, Carly Booth, Emma Cabrera Bello and golf pundit Henni Goya.
Along with the pro-am tournament at the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, the event also included a traditional post-event South African braai. A gala dinner, held on Sunday, 28 January at the five-star Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi also included a charity auction where the majority of the funds were raised.
The True Spirit of Golf and Giving
Extending the spirit of golf and giving even further at this year’s event, youth from event beneficiary, the Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs were also able to experience the fun and sportsmanship of golf through a special morning golf clinic on Sunday, 28 January.
The children, full of enthusiasm and determination, joined Gary Player and professionals Brandon Stone, Olivia Cowan and Henni Goya in a session led by grassroots golfing group, the Future Falcons. Everyone had fun interacting with Gary Player, and were able to try their hand at putting and driving with the other professionals.
Along with Abu Dhabi Sports Council, other supporters of the Gary Player Invitational include Etihad Airways, TDIC, the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, SAP, Rolex, Abu Dhabi Ports and Al Masaood Automobiles. The 2018 event is the third event in what is a five-year agreement to host the event in Abu Dhabi.
For more information on the Gary Player Invitational series, visit www.garyplayerinvitational.com and follow @GPInvitational on Twitter and Instagram- #GOLFandGIVING.