Strongest field announced for 2019 Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open

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Aditi Ashok is the defending Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open champion.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council is announcing the strongest field to date for the 2019 Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open, the first ever women’s professional golf tournament to be staged in the emirate.

Held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, the Ladies European Tour (LET) event returns to Abu Dhabi for a third time to the award-winning Saadiyat Beach Golf Club from January 10-13.

Kicking off both the 2019 LET calendar as well as Abu Dhabi’s 2019 golf season, the FBM Ladies Open also begins a fortnight of thrilling golf action in the UAE capital, preceding both the fourth hosting of the Gary Player Invitational, set for January 13, as well as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, from January 16-19.

Under a new format, the FBM Ladies Open will also be the first tour-sanctioned, entirely pro-am tournament to be held in the UAE.

Defending champion Aditi Ashok will be joined by Beth Allen, who won the inaugural FBM Ladies Open in 2016, British star Charley Hull, as well as Becky Brewerton, Catriona Matthew, Becky Morgan, Anne Van Dam, Caroline Hedwall, Astrid Vayson De Pradenne, Jenny Haglund, Meghan Maclaren, Camille Chevalier and Florentyna Parker.

Beth Allen won in Abu Dhabi in 2016.

Beth Allen won in Abu Dhabi in 2016.

Solheim Cup team members Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Emily Kristine Pedersen are also on the list to tee off in Abu Dhabi.

His Excellency Aref Hamad Al Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open continues Abu Dhabi’s rich tradition of not only hosting world-class sporting events but also of providing a global stage to talented female athletes.

“We, at the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, believe strongly in the power of sports to foster collaboration, leadership and confidence and the FBM Ladies Open is an exemplary showcase of talent, fortitude and teamwork.”

Under the new format, 56 professional golfers will join forces with 56 amateurs to form team pairings. While all teams will compete on day one and day two of the tournament, day three will see only the top 15 teams advance for their chance to secure a podium finish.

The top LET pros will still battle it out for the individual title, which was won by American golfer Allen in 2016 and India’s star Ashok in 2017.

Along with on course action, the event will also salute the skill and spirit of the UAE Special Olympics golf team with a golf clinic, led by a selection of top LET professionals to enable ‘determined ones’ to sharpen their skills and discuss tactics and strategy with the world’s leading golfers.

The female pros are also scheduled to come together to coach young UAE-based female golfers as part of its #ThisGirlGolfsUAE activation, that seeks to encourage the sport among girls in the emirate and beyond.

The tournament is hoping to inspire Emirati ladies to take up golf.

The tournament is hoping to inspire Emirati ladies to take up golf.

“I am really looking forward to playing in Abu Dhabi on such a beautiful golf course, as well as in an exciting new event format,” said England’s Hull, who is set to make her Abu Dhabi debut at the tournament.

“It’s a big year for us with the Solheim Cup taking place in September at Gleneagles, so I want to get a strong start to the new season on the Ladies European Tour and this is the ideal opportunity.

“Also, as someone who has always encouraged more young girls to play golf, I am excited to be part of a tournament that has championed the sport passionately in this region both among young female golfers and older athletes.”

Spectators can catch the action for free. For further details, visit www.fbmladiesopen.com or follow Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open on Facebook and @FBMLadiesOpen on Twitter and Instagram.

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European Challenge Tour’s top three prepare for season finale in Ras Al Khaimah

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Challenge Tour No1 Joachim B Hansen, Frenchman Victor Perez and Finland’s Kalle Samooja ger ready for the season's final event.

The top three players on the European Challenge Tour’s Road to Ras Al Khaimah let their hair down ahead of the season-ending Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour grand final when they visited the picturesque Al Wadi Nature Reserve in Ras Al Khaimah.

Challenge Tour No1 Joachim B Hansen, Frenchman Victor Perez and Finland’s Kalle Samooja are going head-to-head at Al Hamra Golf Club from Wednesday in a bid to finish the season as Challenge Tour No1 but the three men came together under the scorching UAE sun to hit some balls into the stunning Al Wadi Nature Reserve.

The reserve, which spans 1,235 acres within Wadi Khadeja, is famed for its natural beauty and wildlife and welcomes guests from across the world who long to experience the sights and sounds of nature in the northern emirate.

As well as the fantastic views, guests can also enjoy a range of activities with falconry shows, camel and horse riding and catch and release fishing all being held in the reserve.

“I had a lot of fun today. It was great to see a bit more of Ras Al Khaimah on what is a very special week for me,” said Hansen.

“I am staying in downtown Ras Al Khaimah this week, which I’m really enjoying,” added Samooja who won the Hainan Open earlier this month. “To come down and see the Al Wadi Nature Reserve has been another fantastic experience.”

Ras Al Khaimah boasts plenty of adventurous activities for thrill seekers to get their adrenaline fix in and around the stunning Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain range.

Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “High profile events such as the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour grand final also help us attract an increasing number of international visitors and UAE residents who also want to experience everything Ras Al Khaimah has to offer.”

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UAE national team golfers' lifetime playing experience at Challenge Tour grand final

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Four UAE national team golfers will enjoy a once in a lifetime playing experience at the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour grand final next month.

They will go head-to-head at the stunning Al Hamra Golf Club in the Ras Al Khaimah National Matchplay Challenge, being played on the second day of the season-ending tournament, November 1.

The two teams competing will be made up of one senior and one junior national team player with Saif Thabet (Abu Dhabi) and 14-year-old Obaid Al Heloo (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club) taking on Ahmed Skaik (Address Montgomerie) and 16-year-old Rashid Al Emadi (Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club) in the 18 hole betterball matchplay gross event.

Scratch golfers Thabet and Skaik both recently impressed at the 38th Pan Arab Golf Championship for the UAE team where they finished fourth out of 12 countries while Skaik secured a highly impressive fifth in the individual category.

Junior golfers Al Heloo and Al Emadi will also be representing the country in two week’s time as the two make their way to Morocco for the Junior Pan Arab Golf Championship.

“It’s going to be a great experience playing on the same course as the Challenge Tour stars,” said Al Heloo.

Al Hamra Golf Club.

Al Hamra Golf Club.

“It will be nice to watch them play first hand and learn how they approach the golf course before we get our Ras Al Khaimah National Matchplay Challenge underway on Thursday.”

The four golfers will be in for a stern challenge as they play the same course setup as the next generation of golfing stars and are set to be treated to the best-conditioned course to date after all 40 course bunkers were renovated; fairway contours reinstated, tee complexes realigned and greens expanded following recommendations from world-renowned golf course architect Peter Harradine earlier this year.

The Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour grand final, which is only open to the top 45 golfers on the 2018 Road to Ras Al Khaimah, will take place from Wednesday, October 31, to Saturday, November 3, with players looking to secure one of the 15 coveted European Tour cards available for next season which are awarded to the top 15 players in the rankings following the conclusion of play.

Khalid Mubarak Al Shamsi, secretary general of the Emirates Golf Federation said: “To have the Ras Al Khaimah National Matchplay Challenge as part of the Challenge Tour grand final is a great opportunity for our nationaltTeam players.

“It will give our players the chance to see and play alongside some of the world’s future stars. The Emirates Golf Federation would like to thank the Challenge Tour and its officials for assisting us with this match. We are looking forward to seeing who comes out on top of both events”

The Ras Al Khaimah National Matchplay Challenge will tee off at 11:20 on Thursday, November 1, 30 minutes after the final Challenge Tour group, with the winning team being invited back on the final day to receive their trophies.

“This is another exciting local initiative that will help grow the game of golf in the region,” said Nick Tarratt, Director, European Tour Dubai Office.

“When events like the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour grand final come to town we want to help out the local community instead of just being a visiting circus for a week.

“This initiative between the European Challenge Tour and the Emirates Golf Federation will be a rewarding and unforgettable experience for all four UAE national golfers and we hope that one day one of them will be competing for European Tour playing privileges at the season-ending event on the Challenge Tour calendar.”

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