After its massive success in the inaugural year, the Middle East Golf Awards (MEGAs) are back, and the spotlight will be on players and individuals when the red carpet is rolled out on December 11.
The success of the golf industry in the Middle East is well documented now, and it contributes massively not only to overall lifestyle and experience of the many fans of the game living here, but also for the overall economic and tourism growth.
And the MEGAs, which are owned and organised by Sport360°, in association with the region’s golf bodies and sports councils, are an attempt to recognise the amazing achievements that have already been accomplished and to encourage continued success.
A black tie event, the MEGAs set a new standard of golf awards, and, as an annual fixture, reflects the ambitions of everyone involved in golf in the region.
Unlike last year, which was more about the golf courses and the behind-the-scene workers, the 2014 edition will focus on personalities, with 15 new categories being
Troon Golf, one of the biggest operators of golf courses in the world, have already joined the MEGAs as one of the main sponsors.
And Mark Chapleski, area managing director, Troon Golf, said: “Troon and our associated facilities in the region are pleased to support the Middle East Golf Awards again this year. Sport360° is the leader in the sports media arena here and as such their award accolades carry significant weight in the industry.”
Winners will be picked through a system of public and judge voting. Submissions are now open, and will close on October 25. Nominated finalists will be announced at a press conference on November 5.
The awards are again supported by Dubai Sports Council and all the respective golf federations in the GCC, with Saudi Arabian Golf Federation being involved with the event for the first time.
The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 11 at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai.
The evening will commence with a cocktail reception, followed by a three course dinner, and the awards ceremony.
Tickets go on sale on Tuesday, November 5 priced at Dh500, with tables of 10 available at Dh4,850.
Federation Nominated & Public Voted
Best male amateur player of the year
Best female amateur player of the year
Best arab amateur player of the year
Best young expatriate player of the year
Best young arab talent of the year
Club Nominated & Public Voted
Best professional golf event (fan experience)
Best overall club experience (player's choice)
Best teaching professional of the year
Club Nominated & Judge Voted
Golf course maintenance team of the year
General manager/club manager of the year
Golf director of the year
F&B team of the year
Golf marketing team of the year
Recognition Award- Judge Voted
Golf society initiative/event of the year
Outstanding contribution to golf award
Ernie Els’ premier signature design golf course in the Middle East, The Els Club Dubai, will play host to the inaugural Dubai Open when the Asian Tour’s final event of 2014 makes its first trip to the city from December 18- 21.
Promoted and organised by golf in DUBAi, the first professional tour event ever to be held at The Els Club is a fitting tribute to a man who has been an international ambassador and huge supporter of the Asian Tour since the day it was established by their players in 2004.
Situated within the sprawling Dubai Sports City, the 18-hole, par-72 course combines links style golf with traditional 'classical era' design, reflecting the creative genius of a man who also owns a record three Omega Dubai Desert Classic titles.
"It will be an honour for The Els Club and, indeed, for Dubai Sports City as a whole to host such a prestigious event and I would like to congratulate golf in DUBAi on this welcome addition to the city's growing portfolio of world-class events,” said Khalid Al Zarooni, president of Dubai Sports City.
“There is a feeling of tremendous excitement at The Els Club as we welcome our first international tournament, the Dubai Open. We are looking forward to a long relationship with golf in DUBAi.
“We are extremely proud of our championship course, which has been in operation since January 2008 and is managed by Troon Golf, and to have this Asian Tour event really is something we are delighted about.
"I am confident that players and fans will be blown away with by the quality of the golf course and facilities at The Els Club. We can’t wait to showcase Els’ masterpiece to a global audience.”
Dr Ahmed Al Sharif, secretary-general of the Dubai Sports Council, also pledged his support to the new initiative by golf in DUBAi, saying: “International sporting events are key components of Dubai’s Tourism ‘2020 vision’ to increase our in-bound visitor numbers and showcase our quality infrastructure to the world.
“Every time a new major international event is held here, it not only raises Dubai’s profile, but also contributes significantly to the economic growth of our city. Golf is one of the fastest growing sports in the emirate and the addition of the Dubai Open is testament to the rising popularity of the city’s unique position as a diverse and much sought-after golfing destination.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: “It seems just so appropriate that we will be visiting a world-class facility that exudes a culture of excellence and a brand name that appeals to all in the golfing fraternity.
“The Els Club at the Dubai Sports City may be playing host to their first professional tour tournament, but it’s not uncommon to see some of the world’s best players practicing there ahead of events such as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“A first for Dubai and a first for The Els Club, the Dubai Open will be a tremendous boost for the Asian Tour and golf in our amazing city. These are exciting times for golf in Dubai and I look forward to welcoming the Asian Tour and fans to The Els Club.
Straight from the airport to the golf course and onto the front page of the leaderboard. Matt Fitzpatrick, by his own admission, enjoyed his very first outing on the MENA Golf Tour on Monday.
One of the most exciting young prospects in world golf, Fitzpatrick, who posted a creditable solo eighth at the Challenge Tour’s Kazakhstan Open on Sunday, arrived just a couple of hours before his tee time. But Fitzpatrick showed no signs of panic as he opened with a solid one-under-par 71 at the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open to move into a tie for 14th.
That left the golf in DUBAi ambassador four shots adrift of leaders Jake Shepherd of England, Paul Doherty of Scotland and Spain’s Patrick Simard, who all shot matching five-under 67s on a hot and humid day when 15 players broke par.
Germany’s Bernhard Neumann and Gary Munro of England shared the fourth a further shot back at four-under, one ahead of experienced Yasin Ali and two off a seven-man grouping which included UAE’s Ahmed Al Musharrekh.
“I have come here with the sole purpose of enjoying my golf which I did today, The weather was nice, though it was a bit warm out there. The course is really nice,” said the 20-year-old Sheffield-born prodigy.
“I started off pretty well, going three under after five holes, but four-putted the par-3, 11th. On the back nine, I didn’t hole that many putts as I would have liked to. On the whole, I enjoyed my day."
Defending champion Zane Scotland, who was paired with Fitzpatrick, returned a level par.
“It was quite boring out there, just one bogey and one birdie and that says it all,” said Scotland, who is also golf in DUBAi ambassador.
An eagle finish propelled Al Musharrekh to the top of the tree at two-under 70 in the MENA Division for the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundations Award, which recognises the performance of the top three region’s professionals and amateurs from their respective divisions in each event.
The UAE’s only professional ended the round with a flourish, hitting his 3-wood approach on the 18th 256 yards to about 15 feet from cup and holed the long eagle putt without any fuss.
“That 3-wood was probably the best shot I ever struck in a MENA Golf Tour event. Though I did drop some shots midway through my round, overall, I played really well and feeling quite confident heading into the second round,” said Al Musharrekh.
The Moroccan duo of Faycal Serghini and Ahmed Marjan shot an identical level to share the second place in the MENA Division, one shot ahead of compatriot Younes El Hassani.
Elsewhere, the winner of last week’s Dubai Creek Open, Luke Joy, carded a bogey-free 70 and Joshua White, the current Order of Merit leader, settled for a 73 while Wales’ Stephen Dodd, a two-time winner on the MENA Golf Tour, slipped to five-over 77.
Leading first round scores (par 72)
67 – Jake Shepherd (England), Paul Doherty (Scotland), Patrick Simard (Spain)
68 – Gary Munro (England), Bernhard Neumann (Germany)
69 – Yasin Ali (England)
70 – Ahmed Al Musharrekh (UAE), Stuart Archibald (England), Danie Pretorius (South Africa), Luke Joy (England), Ben Williams (New Zealand), Jeremy Kavanagh (England), Aaron Leitmannstetter (Germany)
71 – Cyril Suk (Czech Republic), Fraser McKenna (Scotland), Jose Bondia Gil (Spain), Mathew Fitzpatrick (England), Purna Sharma (Nepal)
72 – Michael Harradine (amateur-Switzerland), Ahmed Marjan (Morocco), Faycal Serghini (Morocco), Lee Corfield (England), Santiago Puigmoltó (Spain), Chris McDonnell (England), Zane Scotland (England), Roberto Rodriguez Cacho (Mexico)