Players hit balls from hotel balcony into lagoon as part of closest-to-pin contest in Dubai
Last week, Tiger Woods hit golf balls from Asia to Europe across the famed Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open. On Monday, five of the European Tour's best players accepted a different bridge-related challenge – a closest-to-the-pin contest in which they hit balls from the Royal Bridge Suite at the Atlantis Resort in Dubai to a green on a barge anchored down below.
Make that way down below – the Royal Bridge Suite's ''tee box'' was up on the 22nd floor, 300 feet high off the ground. The green was a mere 10 yards by 6 yards in size, floating 235 yards out beyond the hotel's swimming pool and beach in the Arabian Gulf.
The contestants were Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, David Howell, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, each of whom got to hit 10 shots. And the winner was: Westwood, whose best shot wound up just four feet away from the flag. His victory was confirmed by an impromptu guest referee – Ian Poulter, decked out in pink swim trunks, who gave up his spot on the beach to join the official referee in delivering the verdict.
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''It was great fun. I like challenges like this at the start of a week and today's one certainly focused the mind with such a small target in the lagoon,'' said Westwood. ''I was fortunate to get the right club – a 7-iron – and I manage to catch it perfectly.''
Westwood received a trophy for his victory, along with a special luxury package that includes a five-night stay in one of the ocean-themed Atlantis Underwater Suites, featuring floor-to-ceiling views of the Ambassador Lagoon and its 65,000 marine inhabitants.
Next up for Westwood and the 59 other players in Dubai this week: playing in the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour's version of the Tour Championship. The tournament has an $8 million purse along with a $3.75 million bonus poll to be divided among the top finishers as the seasonlong Race to Dubai comes to an end.
Here is a video featuring the highlights of the big closest-to-the-pin contest. It's a lot of fun, and especially worth watchiing if you've never seen the Atlantis in Dubai: