England’s Joshua White will be hoping to continue his form and match the feat of defending champion Zane Scotland, the only back-to-back winner on the MENA Golf Tour, when he tees it up at the Royal Dar Es Salaam Open this week.
White completed a dramatic one-shot victory over Morocco’s Faycal Serghini despite slipping four behind with four to play in last week’s Royal D’Anfa Open in Mohammedia and will be eager to register another impressive display on his first visit to the Robert Trent Jones-designed course in Rabat.
Despite his excellent form, the 23-year-old from London played down expectations, “I am not thinking about the result or any record. The aim is to try and play as well as I can and see what happens,” said White, who finished runner-up to Monaco’s Sandro Piaget after a sudden-death playoff in Oman last year.
“The course is in fantastic shape. If you hit long and straight off the tee, you can do well here,” said the Englishman after playing a practice round.
Italy’s Alessandro Tadini, who has played in many European and Challenge Tour events on the course, believes it will become difficult if the wind picks up, which is unlikely to be the case this week according to the Met Office.
“The (tree-lined) fairways are narrow and demand accuracy off the tee. Also, the greens are very small and fast. If you miss them, we will find chipping very difficult,” said the Italian, whose career best score at Royal Dar Es Salaam is a two-under 71.
“I think anyone scoring eight or nine under should win this tournament and if it is windy, a five-under score will do the job,” said Tadini, whose best finish on the European Tour was a top-five at the 2005 Welsh Open.
Spearheading the home challenge will be Faycal Serghini and Younes El Hassani, both an old hand at playing on this course. “If you ask me, the approach shots and putting will hold the key to winning the tournament,” said El Hassani, who finished runner-up to England’s Scotland last year.
“I would love to go one better this time around, but I am not feeling at the top of my game because of my putting. I missed lots of short putts last week (in Mohammedia). I hope this won’t happen again. Let’s see how things shape up,” said El Hassani, who was tied for 32nd in this event last year.
With the likes of Scotland, a six-time winner on the MENA Golf Tour, Stephen Dodd, a three-time champion on the European Tour, seasoned professional, Tadini, Yasin Ali, an Asian Tour veteran and a 40-strong contingent from Morocc that includes 20 amateurs, in the fray, the tournament script could throw up some surprises, so common in contemporary golf.
Welcoming players to his club, Bouftas Abderrahman, president of Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, said it was a great see to players from so many countries come to Rabat to showcase their skills. “Their presence in the field gives the Moroccan players a great opportunity to hone their competitive skills.
“In Morocco, we have many players who are playing as professionals on different development tours. I hope they will produce a good showing against such a quality field and bring more laurels for the country.”
In total, 108 players, including 26 amateurs, will join the starting line-up on Tuesday, representing a perceptible increase in the field from last year’s tally of 57, which included 11 amateurs.