MENA Tour Re­born Af­ter a time­out of more than a year, the re­gional cir­cuit is back with a bang.

Dubai Hills Golf Club set to host price­less pre­lude to re­vi­talised MENA Tour.

Golf Digest Middle East - - Contents - BY KENT GRAY

The sec­ond com­ing

of the MENA Tour will be­gin at an event with no of­fi­cial sta­tus and zero prize­money. At face value, it would ap­pear the an­tithe­sis of ev­ery­thing new 26-year-old gen­eral man­ager Rob­bie Wil­liams and his ded­i­cated be­hind-the-scenes team have worked so tire­lessly to achieve dur­ing a 14-month time­out to re­build the cru­cial re­gional cir­cuit.

But the ‘2019 Omega Dubai Desert Clas­sic Shootout’ is no or­di­nary sea­son pre­lude and cer­tainly doesn’t need a purse to be a price­less foot-up onto the “stair­way to star­dom” the MENA Tour are ped­dling as their new PR catch-cry.

The top three play­ers from the 36-hole stroke­play qual­i­fier, to be hosted at sparkling new Dubai Hills Golf Club on Jan. 20-21, will earn starts in the 30th edi­tion of the afore­men­tioned Euro­pean Tour event the fol­low­ing week.

It’s en­sures a high-pro­file re­turn for the re­vi­talised cir­cuit and is just the begin­ning of the good things to come for its Pro-Am mem­ber­ship who are clearly ea­ger to be part of one of just 20 tours world­wide with Of­fi­cial World Golf Rank­ing Sta­tus; 600 reg­is­tra­tions of in­ter­est for next month’s Q-School is am­ple proof of that.

A new 10-event sched­ule, split evenly be­tween com­pact spring (Feb.-Mar.) and au­tumn (Oct.-Nov.) swings, three with US$100,000 purses and the oth­ers a min­i­mum US$75,000 prize fund – a 50 per­cent in­crease on 2017 – are the most vis­i­ble changes.

Still to come is the cir­cuit’s first nam­ing rights spon­sor, a “Race to Dubai”-style fi­nals des­ti­na­tion and moniker and a sig­nif­i­cant co-sanc­tion­ing agree­ment. There are hints aplenty in the tour’s Q-School and open­ing event proper at Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba, plus the big-time in­vites that will be awarded to the top five play­ers af­ter the ini­tial five-tour­na­ment “Spring Swing” in Jor­dan, Aj­man, Kuwait and Dubai.

The Or­der of Merit (OOM) leader will earn a start in the May­bank Cham­pi­onship in Kuala Lumpur, barely a week af­ter the con­clu­sion of the Spring sched­ule in Dubai. Starts in other Euro­pean Tour events - Morocco’s Trophee Has­san II and the in­au­gu­ral Jor­dan Mixed Open back at Ayla G.C. in April - await the sec­ond and third placed OOM play­ers re­spec­tively while the Asian Tour has got into the act by of­fer­ing the fourth and fifth play­ers starts in July’s In­done­sian Masters.

“We have lis­tened to our mem­bers on var­i­ous is­sues and used this hia­tus of one year to en­sure that we not only have a strong, fi­nan­cially vi­able Tour with stream­lined op­er­a­tion and lo­gis­tics, but also one that makes it eas­ier for our mem­bers to par­tic­i­pate and ex­cel,” said Wil­liams. The re­mod­elled MENA Tour’s first event proper mightn’t take the tee in Ayla un­til Feb. 9, but it al­ready seems like mis­sion ac­com­plished.

“THE RE­SPONSE SO FAR HAS BEEN FAN­TAS­TIC. EVEN BE­FORE WE AN­NOUNCED ANY DATES, WE HAVE HAD OVER 600 REG­IS­TERED IN­TER­ESTS BY GOLFERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE.

golfdigestme. com de­cem­ber 2018

Pho­to­graph cour­tesy Dubai Hills Golf Club

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