Almost 100 professional golfers, celebrities, sporting greats and business leaders descended on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club yesterday, 6 February, to join host and course designer, Gary Player, for the emirate’s second hosting of the Gary Player Invitational.
Held in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, under the Patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi event opened the 2017 global series of six worldwide events, which together have helped The Player Foundation raise more than 227 million dirhams for charities worldwide. Among Mr Player’s special guests for Abu Dhabi’s second union of Golf and Giving were figures from the sport, music and celebrity worlds including golf pros Darren Clarke and Trevor Immelmann; cricket greats, Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara, as well as Boyzlife singers, Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy.
“I simply love visiting Abu Dhabi and of course, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is special,” said Gary Player. Once again, we had an amazing experience in the emirate and I congratulate the UAE’s leadership on building such a beautiful, safe and welcoming country. It was a pleasure to show so many of my fellow athletes and friends, what a magical place this truly is.”
Winning the tournament was professional Emma Cabrera-Bello’s team, and while the four-ball may have taken home the tournament hardware, the real winners will be children from Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care & Special Needs with more than 183,000 AED raised during the event.
“As with last year’s event, the generosity of Abu Dhabi – alongside our key supporters, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and facility owner, TDIC – was on full display. It is truly heartwarming to know that the proceeds from the Gary Player Invitational will go towards building a gymnasium for local children at the Zayed Higher Organization,” added Marc Player, CEO of Black Knight International who organized the event.
“The Gary Player Invitational represents both the best of sport, as well as the best of Abu Dhabi,” said His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. “Bringing some of the world’s most iconic athletes together here in Abu Dhabi to raise funds for such a worthy cause highlights the emirate’s strong sporting credentials as it also remains true to the spirit of generosity that Abu Dhabi is known for. It is our hope that the fond memories created at The Gary Player Invitational remain with our visitors long after they return home, just as their generosity will remain with the children of the Zayed Higher Organization.”
Joining Darren Clarke, Trevor Immelman and Emma Cabrera-Bello in representing professional golfers at the event were Beth Allen, Chris Wood, Georgia Hall, Joost Luiten, Caroline Martens, Jason Scrivener, David Howell, Victoria Lovelady, Victor Dubuisson and Thomas Aiken. Springbok great Victor Matfield, cricket stars Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara, model, racing car driver and television personality, Jodie Kidd, and the UAE’s own, Emirati comedian, Ali Al Sayed also added some serious star-power to the event.
Along with the pro-am tournament at the award-winning, Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, the event also included a traditional post-event South African braai and a gala dinner on 5 February at the five-star Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi. Among the highlights of the Gala Dinner was a touching keynote address by event patron, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. The gala dinner also saw a performance of Boyzlife and a set by UAE comedian, Ali Al Sayed.
Key supporters of the Gary Player Invitational include the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Etihad Airways, TDIC, the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, SAP and Rolex. The 2017 event is the second event in what is a five-year agreement to host the event in Abu Dhabi.