Before the start of this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Jason Dufner and Matteo Manassero took part in a golf-come-darts contest at the eco-conscious Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on the beautiful Saadiyat Island.
Each golfer partnered with an HSBC global sporting ambassador, with the two-man teams tasked with hitting 109-yard approaches onto the sixth green of the Gary Player-designed ocean-front course.
As per darts, the teams accrued points based on landing zones marked out by natural grass circling out from the pin. A hole-in-one scored 360 points, the five-feet ring 180 points and so on.
The four teams were each given six balls – three per competitor – with the team amassing the most points moving onto the final.
In the first semi-final, Rose and Tim Henman beat Dufner and former Welsh rugby star Jonathan Davies by a meagre 20 points, courtesy of Henman’s last-ditch 60 pointer.
“That was a special bit of fun before the tournament,” said Dufner. “Fair play to Tim, he stepped up when it counted.”
The other match wasn’t as close, with Manassero and lions scrum-half Gareth Edwards thrashing Els and former Scotland rugby captain Gavin Hastings 580-120.
In the final, Rose and Henman set a huge target on 620, with the Italian’s team falling 200 points short.
“I brought my ‘A’ game and I’ve definitely honed my competitive edge ahead of the Championship,” joked Rose.
“Hopefully this is the first victory of many this season.”
The exhibition match was also a great success for The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort – the new hotel partner of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – which sits among the grassy fairways and inimitable sand dunes of Player’s sea-front masterpiece.
“Championship week has got off to a flying start for the team at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort,” said John Pelling, the hotel’s General Manager.
“The hotel’s world-class facilities and St. Regis bespoke service has received universal praise from all the players staying with us.”