2008-10-28

DUBAI – Mark O’Meara will draw inspiration from his steely “I-still-can-do-it” resolve when he competes in the forthcoming Hassan II Golf Trophy by Emaar to be held at the Moroccan capital, Rabat, from November 5 to 9.

The two-time major champion made an impressive debut in Morocco’s longest-running tournament last year, finishing tied fifth on three-under-par 289, nine shots behind the eventual winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland.

"I am 50 plus and still hitting the ball well and that gives me a nice feeling," said O’Meara, who is also a golf in DUBAI ambassador. “The course (at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam) is pretty well matured and you will have to play well to be in contention for the title,” said O’Meara who now devotes his time exclusively to the Champions Tour, except for the Masters and British Open.

As a former champion of both majors, he can play Augusta National as long as he wants and the British Open until he's 65. "There comes a time when you have to move on," O'Meara said.

"It was fun playing in Rabat last year. The format of the tournament is very interesting and you get to meet a lot of local players," said O'Meara ahead of the Hassan II Golf Trophy, being promoted and organized jointly by golf in DUBAI and the Hassan II Golf Trophy Society.

"I think I must thank 'golf in DUBAI' for inviting me to the event in Morocco and believing in my ability to compete at this high level. I am looking forward to enjoying my stay in Rabat," said O'Meara who is also one of the golf in DUBAI brand ambassadors.

"I have been a regular to Dubai and from my personal experience I can say the standards of excellence set by golf in DUBAI during the Dubai Desert Classic will echo in Rabat as well and all players will return home with fond memories of Morocco," he said

With 29 victories world-wide, including 16 on the US PGA Tour under his belt, O'Meara would compete in a star-studded field, spearheaded by Ernie Els, in what promises to be an intriguing battle in the sun.

The organizers were equally delighted to have a player of the stature of O'Meara in the field. "At present, Mark may be playing with guys of his own age, but he still likes his golf and, I am sure, he will give the present generation of players a run for their money," said Mohamed Chaibi, Executive Director of the Hassan II Golf Trophy by Emaar.

"We want golf in the Arab world to flourish and gain in popularity among 'locals' and we believe the presence of a player of the stature of Mark O'Meara will go a long way in providing a major boost to the game," he said.

Since its inauguration in 1971, the Hassan II Golf Trophy has attracted some of the finest players in the game and has helped launch the careers of the likes of Payne Stewart, Vijay Singh and David Toms.

Golf, first introduced to Morocco in the 1920s and has since developed into a national passion, thanks to the unflinching support of His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid, chairman of Hassan II Golf Trophy Society.