A palpable sense of anticipation hangs in the air as Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club gets ready to challenge a quality field when the opening event on the MENA Golf Tour gets under way on September 24. The award-winning club will be staging the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club Open, which carries a prize fund of $50,000, to mark the beginning of a lucrative road trip when $325,000 is up for grabs over the next 30 days.
Spearheaded by European Tour veteran Stephen Dodd, Jake Shepherd, the winner of the inaugural edition of the tour last year, and UAE’s just-turned pro Ahmed Al Musharrekh, a host of international players will tee it up in what promises to be an absorbing contest.
The event also attracted the likes of England’s Peter Richardson, currently placed third on the Asian Development Tour’s order of merit, Pakistan number two Matloob Ahmed, Asian Tour veterans Ross Bain and Yasin Ali among others, who all would be keen to produce their own storybook finishes.
Encouraged by the overwhelming response to the opening event of the MENA Golf Tour, the organizers have adopted a flexible approach, expanding the starting field to 120 to accommodate the maximum possible players instead of the originally planned 100.
Having played hosts to numerous tournaments, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on two occasions, the Dubai Creek is no stranger to international golf, but it will be the first time they will be welcoming MENA Golf Tour players in a ground-breaking move which could become a tradition.
Mustafa Al Hashimi, Manager of Dubai Creek, said his greenkeeping staff have been preparing its par-71 championship course for the big week since the last few months to ensure the players face a truly pristine, but challenging golf course.
“We look forward to welcoming players from different nationalities on the MENA Golf Tour. The field is pretty strong and I am sure the script will have many exciting twists and turns. It will be interesting to see if the course record – a 63 jointly held by Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke – comes under threat.
“For that to happen, the players would need to summon their A-game when it comes to the approach shots and putting since the greens are so perfect and the ball rolls so nicely,” he said, adding: “You never know what will happen in golf, but the course will provide a fair all-round test for the players.”
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, thanked the Dubai Creek management for their enthusiastic support to the tour. “We appreciate all the hard work they have put in preparing the course which is in great condition and we can expect some exciting golf ahead.
“We have received the maximum number entries for this event which is not only a great advertisement for the club, but for Dubai golf as a whole. Ours is a young tour and we need all the support we can get. The MENA Tour has attributes to become even stronger in years to come if we continue to have the backing of premier clubs in the region, like the Dubai Creek.”
A new initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the tour is affiliated to R&A and the Arab Golf Federation. The six-stop tour, which is backed by Omega and Mercedes-Benz, boasts a combined prize fund of $325,000.
Pic caption: Dubai Creek welcomes the MENA Golf Tour