AQABA (Jordan) — Todd Clements continued his impressive run on the MENA Tour, firing a tidy four-under-par 69 in tough windy conditions to join fellow Englishman Luke Joy atop the leaderboard after the opening round of the Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship on Thursday.
The 21-year-old amateur, who boasts two seconds in his last three events, started red hot, notching up three birdies in a row while Joy mixed six birdies and an eagle with four bogeys as English players dominated the opening day’s proceedings, claiming the top four places.
Zane Scotland, a 10-time winner on the tour, carded a solid a 70 that left him alone on third, one shot clear of Lee Corfield as MENA Tour patron Darren Clarke settled for tied 15 after returning a three-over 76.
“It’s quite windy out there and it’s difficult (to score). You have to keep your emotions in check. Controlling the flight of the ball is quite important here,” said Clements, who is now 29 under for the last 10 rounds he has played on the MENA Tour.
“I got off to a nice start and managed to keep the momentum going. I am enjoying my golf and very happy with my efforts. We still have two more rounds to go and we will see how things pan out,” said Clements, the winner of the 2017 English Amateur Championship at The Berkshire in August.
A two-time winner on the tour, Joy was equally pleased with his day’s work. “Holed some nice putts and also left a few, but overall, it was a pretty good round. The course is just awesome and the wind makes it even more challenging,” said Joy who is attached to Yas Links, Abu Dhabi.
“The greens are quite tricky and you are going to miss some, but you have to stay patient. You also need a bit of luck if you aim to score well here,” said Joy, who holed a 54-degree wedge from 97 yards for an eagle two after his tee shot drifted into the rough.
Scotland flew off the gate in style, making two birdies in a row and ended the round with a flourish when he picked up shots on the 17th and 18th in a bogey-free back nine to return to the clubhouse with a smile lighting up his face.
Elsewhere, Jordan’s Shergo Al Kurdi, who played the opening round in the company Clarke, moved into a tie for 25th after opening with a 78, one behind Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla while UAE’s Ahmed Skaik (80) and Ahmed Al Musharrekh (81) endured a tough day, leaving themselves some work to do.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA 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 and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.