Golf round-up: Bjorn new Dubai ambassador

Joy Chakravarty 09:48 01/04/2015
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The opening event on the 2015 MENA Golf Tour schedule begins in Morocco this Saturday.

Despite the presence of a strong international field, Moroccan golfers will be looking to take advantage of home conditions and seize the early momentum when the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open, the opening event on the 2015 MENA Golf Tour schedule, begins in Rabat this Saturday.

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With a string of top-10 finishes, highlighted by Ahmed Marjane’s breakthrough victory in 2014, they have already underlined their top status in the Arab world, but will need to take their game up another notch if they aim to get in the habit of winning more frequently.

Well aware of the challenge that lies ahead, a strong home contingent comprising 28 players, including 12 amateurs, have signed up for the event, and all are feeling upbeat about their chances of a producing a home winner this time around.

Spearheading the home challenge in the professional category will be the tried-and-tested trio of Marjane, Faycal Serghini and Younes El Hassani, along with rising star Mehdi Sassi, while Amine El Malki and Karim El Hali will be the players to watch in the amateur division.

A three-time runner-up on the MENA Tour, Serghini is confident of shaking off the bridesmaid tag, and hopes the rub of the green goes his way over the course of the season. “I am getting close, very close. I think it is just a matter of time before my time comes. The door will open sooner or later,” said Serghini, who won the 2014 Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation award for being the best player in the MENA region.

“I have made some swing changes, which has started giving results. More importantly, I have the self-belief in my game which is great,” added the 39-year-old, who is also a ‘Golf in Dubai’ ambassador.

If Serghini is searching for his first win on the tour, Marjane will be aiming to build on his maiden title he achieved at the 2014 Ras Al Khaimah Classic, making him the first Arab to claim a MENA Golf Tour event.

“Obviously, playing in home conditions has its own advantage, but still you have to execute your shots and play as well as you can since the standard of golf is very high,” said the 23-year-old from Rabat.

With Mustapha El Maouas, Ahmed-Reda Rhazali, Mehdi Sassi and Amine Joudar among many potential winners in the fray along with Lebanon’s Peter Badawy, the region’s players, both professionals and amateurs, are more determined than ever to produce their own storybook finishes. Held under the auspices of the Sheikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the 10-stop tour boasts a combined prize fund of $525,000 in addition to offering attractive incentives to the MENA region nationals.

Hunter and Madan are Yas Links junior champions

Ryan Hunter won the Yas Links Junior Open boys’ crown by two shots.
Yas Links member Ryan Hunter produced an excellent gross score of one-under par 71 to regain his Yas Links Junior Open boys’ crown in stunning style. Hunter’s score was two shots better than runner-up Dhruv Nair’s 73. Nishtha Madan took the top title as Girls Champion after she finished with a fantastic gross 73. The days nett winner was Chloe Trinh, who finished with a score of nett 66 while runner up Ziang Xu finished close behind with a score of nett 67. The popular tournament saw 54 local junior golfers tee up, thus making it a fully-subscribed event. It was competed as an individual strokeplay format. In addition a fun putting competition took place on the practice green after play.

JESS claim Schools League title at Arabian Ranches

Winners from the Dubai Schools League.
Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) were crowned champions of the 2014/2015 season of the Dubai Schools League, the Grand Final of which was recently hosted at Arabian Ranches Golf Club. JESS had a Team Stableford score of 362 over the three 9-hole rounds and one 18-hole round. JESS were placed fourth in the Grand Final but had won the first three matches of the season. Taking second place were Jumeirah College (JC) with a score of 341. After placing sixth in the first match, JC bounced back with third and two second place finishes in the last three matches. This 18-hole season finale was a perfect test for the junior golfers of Dubai to show off their skills gained throughout the season. The League is funded by the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF). It started in 2010 with only eight players and two schools and now features over 60 different players representing 13 different schools.

Legend Bjorn a new Golf in Dubai ambassador

As a global ambassador Bjorn aims to boost the Emirate’s brand visibility globally.
Thomas Bjorn, one of European Tour’s most influential players, has been appointed as a global ambassador of ‘golf in DUBAi’ as part of an ambitious drive to boost the Emirate’s brand visibility on the global stage. Affectionately referred to as ‘The Great Dane’, Bjorn enjoys strong links with Dubai having spent most of the European winter in the city. The chairman of the European Tour players committee, he also helped re-design the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club course. “Dubai has become the ‘golfing hotbed’ of the region, if not the world. It’s a tribute to the country’s inspiring leadership that, despite difficult times, they have been able to develop a sporting tradition that remains at the heart of today’s vibrant leisure industry,” said Bjorn, who will be wearing ‘Golf in Dubai’ and Golf Citizen logos on his shirts on his tournament days.

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