As the countdown to the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge begins, Sweden’s Joel Sjoholm is looking to Jordan Smith, winner of last year’s inaugural event, for inspiration in one of the European Challenge Tour’s most-significant events.
Taking place at the stunning Al Hamra Golf Club from October 26-29, the Ras Al Khaimah tournament is the penultimate stop on the Road to Oman and one of the last remaining opportunities for players to gain a spot in the all-important top 15 on the season rankings to gain promotion to the European Tour.
Having finally secured his first title in his tenth season as a Tour professional at the Italian Challenge Open by Lyoness in July, the 32-year-old now has his sights set on emulating Smith – whose victory at the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge in his rookie season last year sealed top spot on the Road to Oman Rankings.
The win proved to be a springboard to further success on this year’s European Tour where Smith has already won his first title at the Porsche European Open and risen to 18th in the Race to Dubai with his spot in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in November already guaranteed.
“I think that all of these fantastic stories of players that go from nothing to everything very quickly shows you that the Challenge Tour is a great place to be but you want to get off it as soon as possible to progress to the European Tour and everyone wants to be like Jordan Smith,” said Sjoholm who was getting some practice in at the European Tour Performance Institute at Jumeirah Golf Estates ahead of the crucial run in of the Challenge Tour season.
“I could clearly see Jordan was a fantastic golfer but I never dreamed his rise to success would go so quickly. But that’s the beauty of golf and everyone is striving to become the next Jordan Smith.”
Sjoholm experienced three seasons in Europe’s top tie, but dropped back down to the Challenge Tour in 2014.
Sjoholm and his fellow Challenge Tour stars in the soaking up the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge action will be three local amateurs who secured spots in the event’s Pro-Am after claiming the podium positions in the Golden Ball Grand Final at Al Hamra Golf Club.
Over 500 amateurs competed in 20 qualifying events across the region with the winners claiming in spots in the Grand Final where Tower Links Golf Club member Michelle Im took the spoils with a fantastic net 67, while playing partner Sandra Chia from Emirates Golf Club posted a net 72 to take second with Graeme Field from Trump International Golf Club, Dubai.