Al Mouj Golf professional Steve Troup and Omani amateur Azaan Al Rumhy.
By Kent Gray
Steven Troup has taken a merciless ribbing from his pals for weeks but hopes plenty of sly practice will allow him the last laugh when his scarcely believable European Tour dream becomes reality at 7.15am on Thursday morning.
The Scottish club pro and Oman national team coach will battle entirely understandable nerves when he tees it up in the NBO Oman Open on a special invite along with the country’s leading amateur Azaan Al Rumhy.
“I’m excited to tee it up on this big stage but also a little apprehensive,” admitted the Al Mouj teaching pro who has been grouped with European Tour winner Sam Brazel and Frenchman Adrien Saddier for the opening two rounds of the $1.75 million event.
“A few guys were joking about me playing in this European Tour event for quite some time but I always played it down and laughed it off until I actually got officially invited three weeks ago – then I started practicing a lot harder.”
Troup at least has home course knowledge – and a best score of 67 on the Greg Norman-designed track – to take to the first tee. Regardless of what happens, the Oman Golf Committee member is buzzing for the biggest sports event in the Sultanate’s history.
“Hosting a European Tour event here is absolutely massive – not just the golf club, but for Oman itself,” said Troup. “It will put this country on the world stage because this is the biggest event to be hosted out here.”
Azaan, who was crowned Oman’s top player when he won the NBO Omani Amateur Final during last year’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, has dreamed about the opportunity to compete in his home country against a field which includes a host past Ryder Cup players and Major champions.
“I’ve always looked forward to playing in a European Tour event after going to Dubai many times over the years to watch the stars,” says Al Rumhy. “I’ve played on smaller Tour events like when the Challenge Tour was here in November but nothing as big as this. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me so I’m privileged and honoured to represent Oman amongst this strong field.”
Azaan, last off Thursday at 1.15pm, has made it his mission to beat Bahrain amateur and good friend Nasser Yaqoob and cheekily also has Troup in his crosshairs.
“Steven is a great man. I started working with him just over a year ago and I believe he’s the best coach we have in the country,” said Al Rumhy. “He’s a good player especially his putting. My target is to beat him this weekend but regardless of the result, we will both have fun during this incredible opportunity.“
UPDATED (Thursday 12 noon, Feb.15): Troup opened with a five-over par 77 while Al Rumhy was six-over through 14 holes of his first round.