Sweden’s Henric Sturehed will look to recreate some of the magic that helped him win the 2017 Tour Championship by a record margin when the MENA Tour by Arena last visited the Al Zorah Golf Club in Ajman.
The 28-year-old from Linkoping was unstoppable during his last visit to the emirates of Ajman, shooting a 21-under par score for the four rounds. That included a course-record 63 in the second round and he finally won by nine shots over England’s Jake Shepherd.
The 54-hole Troon Series – Al Zorah Open will feature a full field of 120 players, including 13 leading amateurs from the region and abroad.
Prominent among those in the field are England’s Matthew Baldwin, who won the Journey To Jordan-1 at Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba by a record eight shots (for a 54-hole tournament), and India’s Dubai-based Rayhan Thomas, who became the first amateur to win on the MENA Tour.
Sturehed, a member on the European Tour last year who agonizingly missed his card this year by just one shot in the Qualifying School, started his 2019 MENA Tour season in superb fashion with a 66 in Jordan. However, a bout of suspected food poisoning laid him low for the next two days and he could only add a 78 and 73 to finish tied 46th.
Now completely recovered, the Swede is looking for further success at Al Zohra.
“I have very good memories of this place from the Tour final. I played very well that week and am hoping I can do something similar this week,” said the world No639.
“What I clearly remember is that I kept it very simple back then. I found most of the fairways and my putter was hot throughout the four days. That is something you need to do on most courses to win and that is what I want to do this week again.”
The 19-year-old Thomas, who recently won the Hamad Trophy in Bahrain for his second win in a professional event, plans to play only the Spring Season (the first half) of the MENA Tour and wants to leave his mark before shifting to the United States where he is committed to the Oklahoma State University, the No1 team in NCAA, later this year.
“Once I join my college, I am not sure how many events I will be able to play on the MENA Tour. I will surely miss all this. These Tour has meant a lot to me and my golfing career so far,” said Thomas, who recently featured in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Saudi International.
“So, I do want to leave on a high. I am playing well and even though I missed the cut in Dubai and Saudi, I did have my moments there and thought I was pretty solid in patches. Now I just need to make sure I have three consistent rounds and I should be in a good place.”
The stunning Al Zorah Golf Club, managed by Troon Golf, was opened in December 2015. A world-class par-72 course, it is designed by the Nicklaus Design group and situated amidst beautiful one million square metres of mangroves and features a plethora of native sandy areas, an abundance of wildlife and 12 km of waterfront.
The MENA Tour by Arena is returning to the world schedule after a year of restructuring and will feature 10 tournaments in 2019. It will continue to provide Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, thus making it a perfect pathway for ambitious young professional to the bigger tours, and for the players from the region to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.