DUBAI, Feb 5: The Middle-East and North African (MENA) Golf Tour is all pumped following the success of 17-year-old amateur Rayhan Thomas, who made the cut in the prestigious Omega Dubai Desert Classic tournament. And now, it seeks to extend its footprint with more tournament in Thailand, which will have a third event now; a new Qualifying School venue in Morocco and continuation of the co-sanctioned events with the Sunshine Big Easy Tour.
The Dubai-born and Dubai-based Indian amateur, Thomas, was one of the two amateurs, who made the cut this week. Thomas is also the highest world ranked Indian amateur at 109th.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the tour, along with former Open winner Darren Clarke, who is the Patron of the MENA Tour, unveiled the plans, which will take MENA Tour to six countries.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour said, “It’s great to see our ‘home-grown’ Rayhan make the cut at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He is real find of the tour, and I hope his exploits at this high level of golf will inspire youngsters to take to golf.
“Our aim is to stimulate the interest in the game in the region, in particular, by creating meaningful playing opportunities. I wish all players the very best for the season and I do hope to join them in one of the events.”
Starting with the Qualifying School at Royal Golf El Jadida in Morocco from March 5-8 which will be followed by back-to-back events in the North African country, the tour features a total of 15 tournaments before the season-ending Tour Championship returns to its original home at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club in October.
With Pattana Golf Club and Resort in Chonburi coming on board for the first time as a host venue, the MENA Golf Tour will have a three-event swing in Thailand as Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin and Mountain Creek Golf Resort in Korat have committed to continue their association with the tour they joined last year.
The Pattana Golf Championship, starting on May 15, will be a 72-hole event, a first for the MENA Golf Tour, and one which will carry more world ranking points as all other events on the tour are 54-hole affairs. Featuring in the field, among others, will be Thai ace Prom Meesawat.
The third and final event on the Thailand swing, The Championship, will be preceded by the Mahasamutr Masters in Hua Hin and the Mountain Creek Open in Korat.
In June, the MENA Golf Tour will travel to South Africa for three co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Big Easy Tour before it takes a summer break.
The second half of the season will commence in Dubai in early September, with the Dubai Creek Open being the first of the four opening tournaments, in the UAE, and followed by others in Oman and Kuwait.
Clarke said, “We are delighted to announce our provisional 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.”
He added, “I said it earlier and I am saying it again that this is one of the fastest growing tours in the world. I want to see the region grow. The more it grows, it will give the young guys greater opportunities to come through the ranks.”
Mohamed added, “Hosting 56 tournaments in seven years gives us a tremendous sense of satisfaction and we thank all the host venues and players for believing in us. Producing more home grown champions like Rayhan may still be a few putts away, but we are happy to happy to move the needle a bit forward.
“We enjoy great relationships with different tours in the world and that is one big reason for the growth of the tour over the years. I would like to thank Arab Golf Federation and all associations that are part of the apex body for their continued support.
“Many more countries have expressed their interest in hosting a tour event, but we happy with 15 to 18 events that we can manage and executive given weather conditions and logistics involved.
About MENA Tour
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf 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.
Multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy and the Maybank Championship Malaysia in addition to full playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Asian Tour Q-School for the leading three professionals are some of the added incentives for the MENA Golf Tour members.