DUBAI — A ground-breaking trip to Jordan highlights the MENA Tour’s post-summer schedule that features six high-stakes events as the tour continues to expand its footprint across the region and beyond.
The schedule, unveiled on Moday, kicks off with the Dubai Creek Open in September and culminates with the 72-hole MENA Tour Championship that will be played at Al Zorah Golf Club in Ajman for the first time from October 23 to 26.
The Dubai Creek Open, which saw young Rayhan Thomas become the first amateur to win a MENA Tour event in 2016, will be followed by the Golf Citizen Classic at the Els Club Dubai and the Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open at Yas Links on the bounce before the tour travels to the ‘land of ancient wonders’ for the Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship from October 5 to 7.
From Jordan, the MENA Tour will head to Kuwait for the Sahara Kuwait Golf Championship before returning to the UAE for the season-ending MENA Tour Championship that will see an exclusive field, comprising the top 50 professionals and 10 leading amateurs from their respective Orders of Merit, battle for honours at the only Nicklaus-design course in the country.
Featuring nine events, the first-half of the MENA Tour season, which had stop-overs in Morocco, UAE, Thailand and South Africa, threw up different winners, all first-timers, and if the trend continues the Order of Merit could well wear a new look coming down the home stretch.
Jamie Elson, who played in all nine events, currently leads the Order of Merit for professionals, closely followed by his fellow Englishmen Luke Joy and veteran Andrew Marshall while Brazil’s Dubai-based prodigy Tiago Lobo sits atop the leaderboard in the amateur division, just two points ahead of England’s Sam Hobday.
“We are delighted to announce our post-summer schedule for the 2017 season which, I believe, will continue to provide an ideal platform for both professionals and amateurs to develop and showcase their skills on a global basis,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Tour.
“With each event producing a new winner, including Netherland’s Pierre Junior Verlaar, who became the second amateur after Rayhan to win a MENA Tour event, the first-half of the season turned out to be a great success, further amplifying the strength of the tour.
“We are delighted to welcome aboard Jordan’s Ayla Golf Club as a host venue as we continue our efforts to expand the tour’s footprint internationally while putting forth some of the top events to maximise opportunities which can benefit our members,” he added.
“We are also excited to be making our first visit to Al Zohra for the season finale which, for the first time, will be a 72-hole affair. Their support is a reflection on the strides being made by the tour in putting the region on the sporting map. I am sure our members will have a memorable experience playing on the Nicklaus-design layout.
“With Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points on offer, I see big things for the MENA Tour. If it keeps going the way it is, it’s a huge pathway for someone from this region to qualify for the Olympics. It gives young professionals much-needed experience, which is difficult to gain.”
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.
Second-half of the MENA Tour schedule for 2017:
Sept 11-13: The Dubai Creek Open at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club
Sept 18-20: The Golf Citizen Classic at the Els Club Dubai
Sept 25-27: The Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open at Yas Links
Oct 5-7: Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship
Oct 16-18: The Sahara Kuwait Golf Championship
Oct 23-26: The MENA Tour Championship at Al Zorah Golf Club in Ajman