Earlier this weekend, respected golf commentator Renton Laidlaw, gave accolades to Abu Dhabi, and declared that it "deserves its mantle as one of the world’s most exciting, emerging golf centers of excellence".
Having covered golf internationally for decades and won golf writing's most prestigious awards, Mr. Laidlaw is clearly in a good position to judge... and it doesn't seem he'd get an argument from any of the golfers... or golf fans... who congregated at Abu Dhabi Golf Club during the past week to contest the first stop in the European Tour's "Desert Swing".
The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship featured an international cast of the world's best. An amazing seventeen different nationalities were represented within the top twenty on today's final leaderboard. It was a group that included at least one player from every continent except... Antarctica!
"Global Golf" has become a trending term lately. ~ Y.E. Yang's win at the 2009 PGA Championship and the designation of the HSBC Champions event in China as a World Golf Championship... along with golf's Olympic re-inclusion... have perpetuated major global golf buzz of late.
Though there was some resentment expressed towards Anthony Kim and other PGA Tour players who have chosen to play European Tour events such as the Abu Dhabi Championship over conflicting PGA Tour events like the struggling Bob Hope Classic, many agree that the future of golf, will depend - to a great extent - on its growth in emerging markets, and with local golfers playing in the Abu Dhabi Championship for the first time, there's reason to believe that a less insular focus may be the best way to achieve that growth. In any case, taking into consideration the above-mentioned events, the sport's global reach seems well positioned to grow.
And now for a couple of my own
The prize for the most remarkable golf outfit goes... not surprisingly... to Ian Poulter for the turquoise on turquoise ensemble he wore on day three. The dapper Englishman put up a valiant fight and finished one back in second place.
Simon Dyson gets an honorable mention for Maroon Monochromatics and Best Use of the Full Cleveland. He posed quite fetchingly in this outfit at the driving range before the second round.
Juan, a reader from Spain, brought Camillo Villegas and his boldly patterned golf shirt to my attention. Mr. Villegas finished the tournament in a tie for 19th and gets extra points for massive muscles... and because he always indulges the fans with the Spiderman move.
Several readers asked me about the galloping horses behind Martin Kaymer in my previous post. Here they are behind T-13, Sergio Garcia. There were a number of such oversized images set up on the course and they made for some interesting and dynamic photos.
The prize for Best Smile While Hitting a Sand Shot has to go to Edoardo Molinari. He was also part of the six-way tie for 13th.
Representing the USA in the top 20 was Anthony Kim. Yet another of the T-13s, Mr. Kim may have been paying homage to his beleaguered pal Tiger Woods, with a red shirt on Sunday.
Amazing and awesome Shane Lowery climbed into the top 100 following his excellent fourth place finish... while reinforcing the myth of the portly golfer. BTW, portly = cute in my book, at least where Shane's concerned.
Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy reinforced his reputation as the "Young Gun to Watch" by finishing in third place, and has evidently gone back to the Ronald McDonald hairstyle he temporarily abandoned in the second half of 2009.
...and finally, these guys won the prize for Cutest Club Covers at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Championship. Do you know who they belong to?
Click here for the answer.
All Photos:Getty Images