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.
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