A total of 22 qualifying events have taken place at 20 golf clubs across the UAE with over 1,000 golfers locking horns for their chance to take part in the Grand Final to win a spot alongside one of the European Tour’s top 60 players on the Race to Dubai at the prestigious Rolex Pro Am.
As if meeting golfing greats like Rory McIlroy, Open Champion Henrik Stenson and Masters Champion Danny Willett is not enough, a money-can’t-buy invitation will await the Grand Final winner as ‘the Luckiest Ball’ champion will get to enjoy an exclusive Championship Beach Party at Nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm, which will be attended by all the players.
The winner also gets two VIP Hospitality tickets to watch the tournament at Jumeirah Golf Estates from November 17-20.
Nick Tarratt, Director of European Tour – Dubai said: “It is great to see this Luckiest Ball on Earth initiative grow each year amongst all the golf clubs in the UAE through the help and support of the Emirates Golf Federation.
“This three-month activation through qualifying rounds, the Grand Final and the ultimate winner’s prize energises the golfers in the UAE and directly and indirectly, it helps us connect with the 10,000 local golfers playing the game throughout the country.”
The Luckiest Ball on Earth Series has proved one of the most popular golfing initiatives in the region since it was launched in 2011 when Kevin Barrett of Arabian Ranches Golf Club won his spot in the Rolex Pro-Am.
With club staff readying to host a 105-strong international field, Matthews says they’ll be watching keenly to see how the 18-hole, all-grass, 7,325-yard course stacks up to Challenge Tour expectations.
“This is the first time we have had a field of elite players of this level so it will be interesting to see just how the course stands up to their skills,” explained Matthews.
“The course maintenance team has been working hard through the tough summer conditions to get the playing surfaces to the levels we wish to present the players with and which they will, I’m sure, expect. But I think they will be pleasantly surprised by what they find when they arrive, not only from the course, which will be a fair test of golf, but from the development and destination itself.”
The inaugural Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge runs from Wednesday 26 – Saturday 29 October and will set the pace in the run down to the coveted Road to Oman series.
The Challenge sees a field of 105 players from 16 nations battle for a US $350,000 prize purse.
Among the field are Challenge Tour leaderboard contenders, English duo Jordan Smith and Sam Walker and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox. Spectators can also look forward to off-course family entertainment, with post-play music every night and free golfing lessons among a range of activities lined up for the tournament village.
For more information on the tournament and The Road to Oman visit www.europeantour.com/challengetour
Jordan Smith and Sam Walker, the top two players in the 2016 European Challenge Tour’s Road to Oman, are looking forward to strengthening their positions by putting on a spectacular show at the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge.
The penultimate event on the European Challenge Tour season will be held at Al Hamra Golf Club from October 26-29.
Smith, who leads the Road to Oman standings, already has a Challenge Tour win to his name this season, at the Red Sea Egyptian Challenge. The 23-year-old Englishman consolidated his position with a second place finish in the recent Kazakhstan Open, where he finished runner-up to compatriot Walker.
“I am really looking forward to it,” said Smith. “I have never been to that part of the world before, so I am very excited to experience the culture of Ras Al Khaimah. I can’t wait to play the course either as I have heard a lot of good things about it.”
The 38-year-old Walker believes his win in Kazakhstan, his second victory of the season, gives him the perfect springboard to test Smith as the Challenge Tour leaders prepare for a shoot-out at Al Hamra Golf Club.
“It is a new venue for the Challenge Tour and because of where it is located I think it will be one of the best places we’ve played at all season,” said Walker. “I have only heard good things about the course and although I haven’t been there myself, I am really excited to go.”
Sponsored by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge will gather a field of 105 players from 16 nations in a battle for a $350,000 (Dh1.285m) prize purse.
“International events of this stature cement our vision as an emerging golf destination,” said Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA.