Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) has announced a world-class line-up for the Abu Dhabi Invitational (ADI) as the 2017 edition embraces a new format this weekend. A team of Professional Golfers, captained by Ryder Cup legend Paul McGinley, will take on a Celebrity All-Stars from the world of sport and entertainment, led by former Manchester United hero Peter Schmeichel.
The tournament, which will be held at Yas Links on Sunday January 29, will see 20 professionals and 20 celebrities each paired with a VIP guest as the teams compete against each other in a Ryder Cup Fourball format. All competitors will play from the back tees with the professionals playing off a +5 handicap.
Among the stars lining up for Schmeichel’s team are football legends Ruud Gullit, Dwight Yorke and Roberto Di Matteo, cricket heroes James Anderson, Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis and rugby union world cup winners Mike Tindall and David Campese. Pop legend Ronan Keating is also appearing for the All-Stars*.
Paul McGinley’s team includes Ryder Cup stars Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick as well as Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the first Emirati golfer to turn professional, and Ladies European Tour stars Amy Boulden and Kelsey MacDonald. Places will also be allocated by invitations from ADSC and from the European Tour to players missing the cut at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters this weekend.
McGinley said: “I am honoured to be captaining the Golfers’ Team at this year’s Abu Dhabi Invitational. I have enjoyed playing Yas Links on many occasions and look forward to being out there again for what promises to be another wonderful occasion. I hope we can raise a lot of money for charity over the weekend as well as having a huge amount of fun.”
Schmeichel said: “With the line-up we have, I know we can give the Pros a serious challenge. It is a prestigious event at a wonderful course and I’m looking forward to it enormously. I know we will have a lot of fun and raise important funds for charity too.”
This year’s event will comprise an Amateur Championship on Saturday 28 January with the invited celebrities and sponsor and stakeholder guests, before the main Invitational the following day.
ADSC is also using the occasion to launch a new umbrella marketing initiative called ‘Sport in Abu Dhabi’. This campaign will showcase and promote the emirate’s central role in the world’s sporting landscape. Abu Dhabi already has a strong reputation as a centre of excellence for world-class sports events, winter training and sports tourism and this weekend’s event at Yas Links will further highlight that.
ADSC’s mission is to offer an environment which highlights the importance of sport in all communities and to implement the best systems to promote competition at all levels, inspiring the champions of the future and encouraging all in the emirate to take an interest in sport and making a healthy lifestyle for themselves.
In line with the UAE’s Year of Giving, the event will be raising funds for two local cancer charities: RAHMA (the Cancer Patient Care Society) and Friends of Cancer Patients.
His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of ADSC, said: “We are thrilled to see such an array of sporting talent and an exciting new format in play for this year’s ADI. We’re also very pleased to be back at Yas Links; it’s the best course in the region and one of the best golf venues in the world. With 2017 being the Year of Giving in the UAE we are also very keen to raise funds for the two cancer charities. It will be an unforgettable event.”
Howie Roberts, General Manager of Yas Links, said. “We are honoured to host these legends of sport and great professionals at Yas Links. This is the fifth time we have hosted the Abu Dhabi Invitational and it is great to see such an innovative and charitable format.”
*Abu Dhabi Invitational Celebrity All-Stars Team Line-Up
James Anderson, Liam Brady, Schalk Brits, David Campese, Ronald de Boer, Roberto Di Matteo, Ruud Gullit, Jacques Kallis, Ronan Keating, Brian Lara, Pablo Mac Donough, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Hasan Salihamidzic, Peter Schmeichel (capt), Roland Schoeman, Sandrine Testud, Mike Tindall, Ian Walker, Dwight Yorke