The Invitational was founded by Abdullah Al Nadoodah and first played at Al Badia Golf Club in 2007 and immediately became a must-play event for Professionals and Amateurs alike. That first edition was played in a ‘best two from four’ team Stableford format alongside the individual pro event, and winning with a score of 83 was the team of professional Nick Oakley, Tariq Al Sowaidi, Steven Jeppesen and Shahriar Khodjasteh. In the pro strokeplay event it was Peter Baily and Greg Holmes who shared first place with matching rounds of level-par 72.
The tournament returned to Al Badia in 2008 where the spoils in the pro event were again shared, this time between Denmark’s Anders Hansen and Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez. In 2009 the Invitational moved to Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club where the field included the 2008 European Tour Order of Merit winner Robert Karlsson and Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher won the individual Pro event with a 3-under 68.
Dubai Creek again played host in 2010 when the ‘old pals act’ of Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke finished as joint winners after both shooting course-record breaking rounds of 8-under-par 63. In 2011 the event moved here to Yas Links for the first time and in the end it was Dubai-resident Ross McGowan who dovetailed beautifully with former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan to win the Pro-Am event with a 12-under-par betterball total. Retief Goosen claimed the individual prize with a then course record 8-under 64 but Richie Ramsay’s performance a year later was simply stunning as he set a new course record with a 10-under 62.
In 2015 it was the turn of experienced pro Darren Fichardt to turn on the style with a winning round of 64, one clear of Thongchai Jaidee, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Ross McGowan. In 2016 American amateur sensation Bryson DeChambeau shot a brilliant 65 just two weeks after starring at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with an opening 64. He was not eligible to win the individual competition for professionals but his seven-under-par score at the event, which featured Rory McIlroy, was a sign that a star of the future had emerged. Jaidee, the 2015 runner-up, shared the first prize for Pros with England’s Matthew Baldwin, Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and Frenchman Alexander Levy with their five-under-par rounds of 67. Despite missing out on the main prize due to his amateur status, DeChambeau’s stellar scoring did help him get his hands on the pro-am team prize. He paired up with Emirati professional Ahmad Al Musharrekh to card an 11-under-par 61 under the betterball format.
Last year saw the event switch to a Ryder Cup Matchplay format, with Paul McGinley’s team of 19 international professional golfers playing off a +5 handicap running out 13-6 winners over Peter Schmeichel’s team of 19 Celebrity All-Stars. Among the stars lining up in the field for the tournament were football legends Peter Schmeichel, Ruud Gullit, Dwight Yorke and Roberto Di Matteo, cricket heroes James Anderson, Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis and rugby union World Cup winners Mike Tindall and David Campese. Pop sensation Ronan Keating also starred. That A-list group took on some of the biggest names in European golf. Captained by Ryder Cup legend Paul McGinley, the professional team included Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter, Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick as well as Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the first Emirati golfer to turn professional, and Ladies European Tour stars Amy Boulden and Kelsey MacDonald.