A week has passed and the golfers have come and gone. The biggest sporting event in Abu Dhabi's history closed on Sunday and things are back to normal. And, it's fair to say, the first visit of the European PGA Tour to the capital has been hailed as a resounding success.

By Tim Newbold (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Wed 25 Jan 2006, 12:24 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:25 PM

Yours truly was able to go along for all four days to roam the course and hospitality area looking for 'side' stories. My boss, who is not a sports fan, said he also wanted some news stories. I explained that finding general news at sports events is no easy task. To keep him happy, though, I managed to churn out a pretty trivial 'story' on what some players and VIPs thought of the tournament. I hoped this would show him that I wasn't just on a jolly — as great as it is to be able to cover a hobby as part of the day-job.

Head office can't have appreciated how difficult it is to speak to players on a one-to-one basis, however, because the piece hasn't seen the light of day. So, in an attempt to make use of the material gained through much sweat and toil, I'll have to plonk it on this page.

It's actually not that rivetting as - surprise, surprise - two golfers I spoke to only had good words to say about Abu Dhabi. It is not hard to see why. They were put up for the week in the luxurious surroundings of the Emirates Palace, looked after with lavish hospitality and were playing around a beautiful golf course for a huge pot of cash.

It would be easy to poke fun at what the players said, as they are unlikely to be remotely critical — especially on the record to a reporter they've never met before. But neither held back in showering praise on the tournament and Abu Dhabi.

As it's three days since the championship ended, the quotes do not carry quite the same force now. But it's not every day you speak to Sergio Garcia, the Spaniard officially ranked the sixth best golfer in the world, and Paul Casey, one of the friendliest faces on the European golf circuit.

Even after the first round and a moderate score, Casey had all but made up his mind about coming back in 2007. He described the "incredible architecture", "very friendly" people and "wonderful climate". "It's fantastic," he said. "I will definitely come back based on my first few days here."

After the third round Garcia, who finished in third place, said that, if the dates fit, he would come back next year. "I love it," he said.

'Delighted' is a much over-used word in the stream of press releases the media receive but it will probably only begin to describe the feelings of, among others, the emirate's tourism authority and airline Etihad at how the week went. When the tourists start coming, they'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

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