Spurred on by the success of Ahmed Marjane, the first ever Arab winner on the MENA Golf Tour, the region’s top talent will be all charged up to glean more glory when they line up for honours at this week’s Ghala Valley Open. Showing a perceptible spring in his step that exuded confidence, the young Moroccan prodigy upstaged many big names to win the Ras Al Khaimah Classic two weeks ago, his achievement underscoring his resilience and continued resurgence in the region’s golf.
In a buoyant mood ahead of the $50,000 Ghala Valley event, Marjane will join countrymen Faycal Serghini, Younes El Hassani and Amine Joudar and UAE’s Ahmed Al Musharrekh in leading the Arab challenge against a quality field that includes England’s Luke Joy, the current Order of Merit leader.
With the likes of Zane Scotland, Jake Shepherd, Lee Corfield and Joshua White, all former winners on the MENA Golf Tour from England, also in the fray, the seventh stop on the MENA Golf Tour promises to produce all the ingredients of a good thriller.
After three runner-up finishes, including one this season, Morocco’s Serghini will be hoping there is no near-miss this time around. “I am up there, contending almost every week and doing things which I need to do win a tournament. But somehow I have not been able to close the deal,” he said.
“There’s always tomorrow and there is always hope. Maybe Ahmed (Marjane)’s victory will rub off on the MENA region players. Who knows? One thing is sure, we won’t give up without a fight,” said Serghini, a runaway leader in the Professional Division of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation Award that recognizes the performance of the region’s professionals and amateurs from their respective divisions in each event.
Scotland’s Daniel Kay has opened up the Order of Merit race for amateurs with an emphatic victory in their division at Ras Al Khaimah when he moved into third place behind the English duo of James Allan and Craig Vance.
Supported by the Oman Golf Committee, the tournament will see 85 players, including 17 amateurs, battle it out for honours at Ghala Valley Golf Club at the foot of the Hajar Mountain range. Also included in the field is Oman’s amateur Ali Hameed Al Saleh as most of their leading players are on national duty in Australia, playing in the Asia Pacific Championship.
Welcoming the MENA Golf Tour party, Ziyad Al Zubair, a board member of the Ghala Valley Golf Club, said: “The event at Ghala Valley will provide fresh impetus to its growing reputation as a major golf destination and help showcase our golfing facilities to the world.
“We are delighted to be part of the MENA Golf Tour as we support all initiatives which target the overall development of the game in the region,” he told newsmen on Sunday. “The tour has done a great job in creating a competitive environment for the region’s players to grow and excel on the international stage.”
Ahmed Aljhdhamy, vice chairman of Golf Oman, said: “Golf is relatively a new sport in Oman, but it is growing thanks to Ghala Valley Golf Club who have been a great supporter of the country’s junior golf programme. We believe in quality and not in quantity. The staging of the MENA Golf Tour event in Oman is a step in the right direction and we will do everything we can to support their initiative in Oman.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the tour, thanked the Ghala Valley Golf Club and Oman Golf Committee for their enthusiastic support in hosting the event which be believe will become a popular and permanent stop on the Tour.
“Oman, which is well known for its striking landscape, has made great strides in putting together solid infrastructure for golf and hosting of a Tour event here strongly endorses the Sultanate’s commitment to broadening the base of golfers in the Arab world.
“We look forward to working with the Oman Golf Committee with the mutual goal of putting the region’s golf on the world’s sporting map.”
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation.
Pic caption: Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, is flanked by Richard Mulholland, assistant tournament manager, Ahmed Marjane, Ziyad Al Zubair, Ahmed Aljhdhamy and Luke Joy at a Press conference at Majan Continental in Muscat on Sunday.