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What to expect from the upcoming OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic 2020

What to expect from the upcoming OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic 2020

The three-day event will be held from November 4-6 at the Faldo Course within the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai

The Emirates Golf Club in Dubai

It’s been a crushing year for global mega sporting events, the majority of which have had to be postponed, while others have had to be called off altogether. A handful of these though have since resumed over the last few months under the long shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, with ‘bubbles’ created to protect participants under strict safety protocols.

One such sporting spectacle is the upcoming OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic scheduled to take place from November 4-6 at the Faldo Course within the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

“2020 has been a very difficult year globally, not just for sports, and as such we are very grateful to Dubai Sports Council and all our partners. Without their support, this tournament simply wouldn’t have been possible. With some of the game’s best players set to attend this year’s tournament, we’ve gone above and beyond to ensure the necessary safety precautions are in place,” says Simon Corkill, executive tournament director for the 2020 edition.

Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO of OMEGA
Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO of OMEGA

It is the only day-night event on any tour, with the tournament organisers deciding to play 36 of the 54 holes in this year’s edition under floodlights. A total of 56 players will compete for $285,000 prize money.

“The tournament was previously known as the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, which we were the title sponsor of since 2009. For all of our time supporting golf in the Middle East, the ladies’ tournaments have been a very special highlight, because the talent is always exceptionally high,” says Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO of OMEGA.
That exceptionally high talent includes Minjee Lee, as well as New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko, a former world number one pro golfer who has won two majors and notched up 26 victories around the world.

Also competing will be 24-year-old Georgia Hall who plays the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour. She won the 2018 Women’s British Open and has shown to be in good form this year with three other wins. She will also come up against fellow British golfer, 24-year-old Charley Hull, a familiar face in the region who won the 2019 edition of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

Held under the theme ‘Time to Shine’ the pro-am event will also give amateurs a chance to measure themselves against established names. Among the emerging talents is 19-year-old Indian golfer Diksha Dagar, who was born deaf, and won the 2019 South African Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand
Lydia Ko, a former world number one pro golfer, will be participating in the event

As part of the Covid-19 protocols, the tournament will be closed to the public, but will be broadcast to over 60 countries and a reported 348 million households. It’s an opportunity that provides significant visibility to title partner OMEGA, which has also been actively engaged in partnering with several other sports.

“Sport is an essential part of our identity. And it has been since 1909, when we timed our first-ever sports event. We’ve been timing the Olympic Games since 1932. OMEGA has not only timed sports, but we have helped to evolve them through the development of new timing systems and equipment,” says Aeschlimann.

That timing equipment includes the likes of Scan’O’Vision Myria camera which was introduced at the 2016 Olympics and can capture a breathtaking 10,000 images per second for a photo finish, as well as an archery targeting system that can determine the position of an arrow from the centre down to 0.2mm, more than can be distinguished by human sight, and even starting blocks for track events that can detect false starts, among several other innovations.

“It’s important to point out that OMEGA is not considered a ‘sponsor’, but rather an official timekeeper. Our role is quite critical to the success of each sport, and we bring over 100 years of experience to every event. At the moment, OMEGA is involved in the most important competitions in sailing, golf, athletics, swimming, bobsleigh and monobob. Of course, there’s also the Olympic Games, where we time every single second of the action. In Tokyo alone, that covers 339 events in 33 different sports,” notes OMEGA’s CEO.

The pandemic has meant that the 2020 Olympics was pushed to next year, but like the upcoming golf tournament in Dubai, there are a few other high-profile tournaments that have still gone ahead. “It’s been a very disruptive year for sport, and it looks like the challenges might continue for a little longer. But that doesn’t mean our loyalty will change. We’re looking forward to all the events coming up – including the America’s Cup sailing competition in just a few months.”

While OMEGA has a fixed roster of sporting events it partners with, Aeschlimann points out that the Swiss watchmaker is not rigid in its position to forging new alliances with sports that have become popular over the last few years – take UFC, for example – but says that it needs to find a good reason, beyond mere popularity, to do so. “We wouldn’t increase the range unless it felt authentic to our brand. Just because a sport is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for us. I think because we cover so many different sports at the Olympic Games, there’s always a chance we could go in a new direction,” says Aeschlimann, while adding, “but for now, we are already very busy and happy with the sports we have”.

Here in the Middle East, OMEGA’s involvement with sports is focused on golf. Apart from the OMEGA Dubai Moonlight Classic, OMEGA is also the title sponsor of the high-stakes OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic. This year’s tournament included the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia with a total prize purse of $3.25m, and the winner (Lucas Herbert) taking home $541,660.

Aeschlimann confirmed though that the watchmaker’s sporting relationship with the UAE (a country where it recently opened its 14th boutique in Dubai’s Nakheel Mall) will extend beyond golf too as it heads to Abu Dhabi to partner with the FINA World Championships next year.

For the moment, sporting enthusiasts can train their attention onto the upcoming golf event in Dubai. Strong comebacks, big upsets and career-defining moments – judging by the history of the event, it won’t be hard to find several examples of these at the Moonlight Classic.

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