Manassero impressed with Abu Dhabi course changes

Joy Chakravarty 10:40 09/01/2014
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Teelighted: Manassero on the 18th

Abu Dhabi’s global golf ambassador Matteo Manassero expressed his delight at some of the new changes in the golf course ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, which will be played from Thursday next week.

The most prominent is a new tee on the 18th hole, which is sure to add to the excitement during the tournament.

The par-5 closing hole at the Peter Harradine-designed course is one of the great finishing holes on the Tour, with winners walking away with eagles and birdies, and there are some who have lost the lead after finding trouble on either sides of the fairways, as well as the large green.

The new tee is five metres higher than in previous years and has been positioned to the left of the present tee. The new hole angle creates a straighter tee shot and brings into play bunkers on either side of the fairway, while the water stretching down the right-hand side remains a constant threat.

And Mannasero, who recently played the course before heading to Durban for the Volvo Golf Champions, commented on the new tee: “I personally think it’s a great change. It doesn’t make the hole longer, but just gives you a better perspective than the old tee shot.

You can see the bunker on the right much better and it is easier to start it off down the left, but it’s also easier to link it down the left and hit the water.” The changes are just part of a series of enhancements made by Andrew Whittaker, director of agronomy at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, and his team, to make the course tougher for the quality field.

It also improves sightlines for spectators. Whittaker said: “We are constantly seeking ways to take the golf course to a new level, keeping ahead of the ever-changing technology which helps golfers hit the ball further.

“Over the last eight years, we’ve added many new tees and bunkers to the original design as well as ex-tending and increasing the green sizes to add more challenging pin positions.

“With tighter fairways, tougher rough and fine-tuning across all the holes, the Championship course is the most challenging in the Middle East.

The changes to 18 really create a ‘wow’ factor – and mean the toughest course will have the toughest finish.”

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