In what is a reflection on the array of talent on show, the first two events in the Rainbow Nation have produced two different winners and, if the script holds good, a new champion could well emerge when the tournament finishes on Friday.
That certain someone will need to fire on all cylinders to step up to the plate and conquer a field that offers no clear favourite on a course known for its fast-paced and undulating greens.
Though last week’s winner Craig Hinton is missing from the line-up, the presence of four MENA Golf Tour winners and Bryandrew Roelofsz will add star value to the event which will see a full field of 120 players, representing 15 countries, battle it out for honours.
South African Roelofsz, who currently leads the Big Easy Tour Order of Merit standings, will be looking to rediscover the form that won him the South to East Challenge, the inaugural MENA Golf Tour event in South Africa two weeks ago, and sign off on a bright note.
Roelofsz believes the co-sanctioned events between the Sunshine Big Easy Tour and the MENA Tour is a brilliant platform to develop golf locally and abroad.
“Having these events is great for guys on both the Tours. It’s a great platform that has been started and, hopefully, we can have many more events like this,” he said.
Hoping to make his presence felt will be Thriston Lawrence, the winner of the MENA Tour’s Order of Merit title last year. The 19-year-old prodigy showed signs of his considerable promise with a top-10 finish at the South to East Challenge, and will be eager to finish with a win.
Other MENA Tour notables in the field include Scotland’s Paul Doherty, Englishman Scott Campbell, the winner of 2015 MENA Tour Championship, and Antonio Costa of Chile who all will be aiming to finish as strongly as possible at Waterkloof Golf Club.
One of the most popular courses in the Pretoria area, Waterkloof — formerly known as Monument Golf Club — was established in 1969, before it was redesigned by Peter Matkovich in 2004.
Webb Theuns and Patrick McCarthy came out on top after shooting 46 Stableford points as sixty EGF members from across the UAE took to the Yas Links Abu Dhabi course on Saturday.
Theuns and playing partner McCarthy claimed victory after the two players combined for an impressive 46 points, three points better then any other pair.
Behind them in second-place was Ian Haywood and Damien Ward, who finished with 43 points.
Thanks to producing the best back nine score, Ramesh Nagaraju and Ben Mulvaney ended up third, ahead of Jacob Hall and Oliver Seldon in fourth and Peter Lane and Jeremiah Kaplan in fifth.
All five pairs received prizes, while there were also on the course prizes for some of the best individual performances.
Rotana Hotels rewarded the golfer with the longest drives, snapped up by winners Manny Ostojic and Andrew Smolak. The final prize went to Sami Al Zarooni for getting nearest to the pin.
The second EGF Summer Swing of 2016 takes place on July 16th at Al Zorah Golf Club.
Craig Hinton finally got his hands on the winner’s trophy at the MENA Golf Tour, winning the Jo’burg City Masters, co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, with a birdie on the closing hole at Glendower Golf Club.
Starting the day a good three shots off the pace, the 27-year-old Englishman closed with a four-under 68 to finish seven-under for the tournament, two clear of a four-man group which included NJ Arnoldi and David Ashley, who both carded 66s.
A four-time runner-up on the MENA Golf Tour, Hinton eagled the par-4, seventh and birdied the next two holes to get his nose in front for the first time in the tournament. He dropped a shot on the par-5, 15th after making the turn at four under, but held his nerve for his maiden win on the MENA Golf Tour.
“It was a good yardage for the club I had. I was a little indecisive – I mean I slightly pulled it, but it was nice to have a tap-in,” said Hinton about his finish on the challenging par-four 18th.
Hinton’s brilliant approach shot on the 18th wasn’t his only special moment during the final round. An eagle-two at the par-four seventh sparked the momentum for his title run.
“It was a slow start, but the eagle on seven sort of kick-started the round. I had a couple birdies after that and it kind of gave me a chance to win the tournament,” said Hinton.
“I thought I’d get to 10 – 10 was in my head. When I got to seven early through the front nine I thought there were a lot of chances on the back nine. I looked at the scoreboard at four and no one really had made the charge. I just sort of made par coming in.”
Hinton’s approach of looking at the leaderboard throughout the round is one some golfers don’t agree with, but for him it’s a way of calming himself and knowing what he needs to do.
“I looked at every single one. Yeah, it’s good to know here you are. Walking up 18, I even asked one of the rules officials what the guys were doing behind. I think you need to know what you need to do up the last and if you can take a risk or not take a risk,” explained Hinton.
On a layout which required precision and nerve, overnight leader Siphiwe Siphayi of South Africa fell away after dropping three shots in his first five holes. He responded with a couple of birdies and an eagle (on the 15th), but kept bleeding shots along the way, eventually settling for a 74 to finish in a tie for ninth on three-under along with England’s Luke Joy, a two-time winner on the MENA Golf Tour.
The MENA Golf Tour will travel to Pretoria for the third and final event — The Roar — in South Africa this season to be held at Waterkloof Golf Club from June 22 to 24.