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$2.5m payout for a hole-in-one in Desert Classic

Historic prize will only be available at weekend when par-four 17th will be shortened to 325 yards

Gulf News

Dubai: A payout of $2.5 million (Dh9.2 million) for a hole-in-one will take the excitement levels to a new high when players tee it up at the 17th hole during the 25th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club next week.

For the first time in the history of the longest-running European Tour event in the region, the hole-in-one incentive is offered to players on the drivable par-4 hole in addition to prizes for acing the 186-yard, par-3, 7th of an Omega watch (Seamaster Aqua Terra Chronometer) and a new Mercedes-Benz at the 190-yard, par-3 15th.

With an array of elite golfers, which includes the likes of world No 1 Tiger Woods, European No 1 Henrik Stenson and world No 7 Rory McIlroy among other past champions joining the fray, there is a distinct possibility of someone laughing all the way to the bank.

If the stars align, a player could walk away with $3,216,660 if he won the Champions Challenge ($300,000) on Tuesday, hole-in-one on the 17th and the tournament on Sunday ($416,660).

Measuring 359 yards, the 17th hole is the second-shortest par-four after the second hole (351 yards) on the Majlis course, but one which is fraught with danger as going straight for the target can make or mar the hole, which is surrounded by sand, trees and desert grass.

The first player who aces the 17th either on Saturday or Sunday will receive the $2.5 million prize since the incentive is offered to only those players who make the half-way cut. The hole will be shortened to about 325 yards in the final two rounds to add to the excitement.

“Aces on the golf course are extremely rare, especially on par-4s, because of the huge luck element involved, but skill definitely increases the probability,” said Mohammad Juma Bu Amim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, the promoters and organisers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

“We have no dearth of skilled golfers in the field.”

golf in DUBAi is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the patrons in golf in DUBAi’s drive to showcase the emirate’s golfing scene to a worldwide audience.