Leading golfers in the UAE believe the exposure in the MENA Golf Tour events will provide the spark they need to light up their careers on the international stage.
Daniel Hendry, Michael Harradine, Miki Mirza, Philipp Urasch, Khalid Yousuf and Ahmed Al Musharrekh, who all play off scratch of better handicaps, are among some of the well-known names who have signed up for the inaugural edition of the Tour that features four back-to-back tournaments, all to be played in the UAE from next month.
“Local knowledge” could come in handy when they test their skills against seasoned professionals and amateurs from different parts of the world in what promises to be keenly-contested events.
But having played most of their golf socially, they know that competing on a proper Tour from the Championship tees would be a difference ball game and hence they need to be on top of their game.
“There is a huge sense of anticipation ahead of the Tour as it will give us a good opportunity to test our skills against the professionals on a more competitive level,” said Mirza, winner of the Emirates Golf Federation’s order of merit title.
“The Tour will provide a big boost for golf in the region and the standard of the game will improve rapidly,” added Al Musharrekh, at representing the UAE in the Nomura Cup. “Most of us have played the game socially in the UAE, but lacked a competitive environment to hone our skills. The Tour aims to create just those much-needed windows of playing opportunities.”
Talented Harradine, who won the Shaikh Rashid Trophy last year, and Hendry, the current junior Order of Merit winner, are also relishing the prospects of competing against a strong field which will also include seasoned professionals like Ross Bain and Yasin Ali.
“Obviously, the Tour our will help in bringing some new people into the game and amateur golf will be much higher as they will be playing against professionals on a proper Tour,” said Harradine, whose father Peter is a well-known golf course architect based in Dubai.
“It’s nice to see the MENA Golf Tour creating a bit of excitement among UAE players. The Tour events will also serve as a reality check for these youngsters. They will know where they stand after the Tour and will have the desired motivation to work hard,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour. “And the good thing is that they are mentally prepared for the challenges ahead.”
Meanwhile, entries are pouring in thick and fast for the Tour events which are open to both professionals and amateurs from any part of the world.
The starting field for each event will comprise 100 players, including invited MENA members and host countries.
Of the 100 golfers, 60 per cent will be Professionals and the rest Amateurs. In the event of a tournament being oversubscribed, which seems likely to be the case, the first 90 (50 professionals and 40 amateurs) entries will automatically be accepted and the balance will compete in a pre-tournament qualifying event for the remaining 10 places (five professionals and five amateurs).
The first event will be held at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club from September 25 to 28 while the second and third event will be played from October 2 to 5 and October 9 to 12 at the Tower Links Golf in Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai’s Al Badia Golf Club respectively before the tour reaches its climax with the ‘Tour Championship’ to be held at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf from October 16 to 19.
The top three professionals and the leading amateur from the Order of Merit will receive special invitations to compete in the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic and, possibly, other European Tour events in the region.
Interested players may visit the tour website – http://www.menagolftour.com – for more details and registration.
Khalid Yousuf and Miki Mirza … ready for the MENA Golf Tour challenge