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Zecheng Dou wins the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic

GREAT EXUMA, The Bahamas — The Islands of The Bahamas have hit a hole-in-one with the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, as players and organizers of the event continue to rave about its success.

Over 132 players from around the world teed off at the PGA Tour event held at Sandals Emerald Bay’s golf course from January 10-16. The event opened the PGA Tour season.

In the end, Zecheng “Marty” Dou, of China, won by draining a 55-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. This is Dou’s second win for the series, as he took the title in 2017.

Dou, who broke records on the course during the competition, said that playing in The Bahamas is like being on vacation.

“We like it out here because we can’t take everything with a driver shot. It’s more tight and the wind picks up pretty easily, so we have to think about how we want to play every hole,” he said. “The last time, I had a great time also. This place just makes you feel really calm and you can really enjoy yourself here.”

Other players also spoke about their love affair with The Bahamas. Sam Love, of Birmingham, Alabama, said he’s always been drawn to the weather.

“The weather home is pretty cold, and this is an awesome spot to be. It’s a great tournament and it is ran well every year. With five or six holes right on the water there are great views back there,” he said. “Everything is relaxing, and the water is some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.”

Meanwhile, Brock McKenzie said he fell in love with the people.

“I enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. All the locals are really chill. You can throw on your trunks and flip-flops and walk on the beach. When you are in the ropes and playing on the golf course you are highly stressed, and so it is nice to relax. It is the place to be, especially this time of year,” he said.

The economic impact that the series has on Exuma is tremendous, according to officials. During the island’s traditional “slow period” in January, hotels and other lodging were running at 100 percent occupancy.

Sandals Emerald Bay General Manager Jeremy Mutton said the event has had a spill-over effect into the community.

“You tend to notice that after New Years it turns into a slow period, and so it is very good filler and especially during this time of year when it is cold up north,” he said. “To have a championship golf course on the island is a real plus. A lot of the hotels around the island are full.”

Managing Director of Grand Isle Resort Lester Scott said that the event continues to improve.

“We are excited about the future of the event continuing. I think plays an integral role in exposing our beautiful land,” he said.

The event, which was organized by BD Global, was broadcast live on NBC’s Golf Channel.

President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BD Global Brooks Downing said the tournament was potentially broadcast in over 200 million homes.

“This helps to not only bring golfers but tourists here,” he said. “What’s great about this is that this is a place with multiple amenities. The reaction has been terrific, and the results are starting to pay dividends. Since we started the event three years ago, we are seeing traffic growing in Exuma like we never did before.”

This is welcomed news for tourism officials, according to Director of Sports Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism Eldece Clarke. She said: “This event is terrific because you have 132 golfers from around the world experiencing Exuma. The fact that it is being broadcasted around the world is even better, and so we are happy to host this event with the people of Exuma.”

Senior Manager at The Bahamas’ Tourism Office in Exuma Emmett Saunders said putting on the event is a community effort.

“There is a sort of community pride because many of the locals have volunteered to be a part of the event,” he said. “ Everyone is proud that Exuma can host a global sporting event.”

The tour is now on its way to Abaco for the Great Abaco Classic at the Abaco Club on Winding Bay, which will also be broadcast live on the Golf Channel.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, it is estimated that both tournaments will collectively generate 7,189 in hotel nights and visitor spend of $1,485,000 on the islands.

Jump Line – Golf classics expected to provide an economic boost for the islands of Exuma and Abaco.

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