Muscat: The field for the European Tour’s inaugural NBO Oman Open at Al Mouj Golf Club in Muscat from February 15-18 has been strengthened by the addition of Ryder Cup stars Robert Karlsson and Nicolas Colsaerts.

The tournament represents arguably the biggest professional sports event to have ever taken place in the Sultanate and has captured the imagination of players and fans.

Karlsson and Colsaerts, who boast 13 European Tour titles between them, add weight to an impressive line-up that also includes fellow Ryder Cup players Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood and Stephen Gallacher along with former Open champion Paul Lawrie (also a two-time Ryder Cup participant), 2016 Open de Espana winner Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and last year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters champion Jeunghun Wang.

“I’m really looking forward to the tournament,” said Karlsson who won both Dubai’s DP World Tour Championship and the Qatar Masters in 2010.

“Oman is a beautiful country and I’ve heard really good things about the golf course from everyone who has played it. I love playing in the Middle East and I’ve got a pretty good record in the region so I can’t wait to get out there.”

The Oman Open sees the number of European Tour events in the Middle East increase to five, joining the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Qatar Masters and season-ending DP World Tour Championship, which wraps up the Race to Dubai season.

“It’s great news for the European Tour that there is another event in the Middle East,” said Colsaerts. “All the events we play in this part of the world are really well run and the courses are fantastic so I can’t wait to tee it up at Al Mouj.”

Also set to compete over the Greg Norman-designed course are former winners of the Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman Rankings Tapio Pulkkanen, Jordan Smith and Ricardo Gouveia — the latter a winner of the Challenge Tour’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, predecessor to the NBO Oman Open, which took place at the same venue.

The list of former Al Mouj winners will also include Clement Sordet and Bernd Ritthammer, while SSP Chawarasia, Joost Luiten, Pablo Larrazabal and Marcel Siem — all four-time European Tour winners — will join them in Oman.

“I have very fond memories of Oman having won the Road to Oman in 2017,” said Pulkkanen who was crowned Challenge Tour winner in Muscat last November. “I look forward to returning to Al Mouj for the first European Tour event in Oman. My experience of playing in the Sultanate just a few months ago will hopefully put me in good shape for playing in this year’s Oman Open and I look forward to catching up with some old friends in Oman.”