UAE golf round-up: Albertson’s eagle clinches Nepal Charity Golf Day

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Charity: Funds for Nepal.

An eagle-three finish on the 18th hole proved decisive for club captain John Albertson III as Abu Dhabi Golf Club raised  in excess of Dh30,000 for earthquake victims during its Nepal Charity Golf Day last Saturday.

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Taking advantage of teeing off from the ladies red tees, the big-hitting American hit driver, six-iron to six feet and duly rolled in the putt for five stableford points.

The sensational finish saw Albertson III and his partner Jim Mulvehill sign for a better ball stableford score of 52 points to win by three from Darren Abel and Stephen Louis, while Derek Mackey and Robert Whatley were third on countback, a point further back.

A 12-handicapper, Albertson III said: “For Dh30 you could tee it up from the red tees and I went straight over the water to 185 yards out and hit a six-iron to six feet. 

If it hadn’t been for the eagle, in fact it was more like a double eagle given my handicap, it might have been a different outcome.”

Ewing and Al Marzooqi are Yas Links seniors champs

Champ: Ewing with his trophy.

A solid round of 76 gross in hot playing conditions by guest player Sean Ewing won him the second Yas Links Senior Open by two shots.

The tournament, open to those aged 50 and above, was almost fully subscribed despite the intense heat on the golf course, and Ewing played very consistently for his round of 76, which was two shots better than Peter Boland.

Yas Links member Lora Al Marzooqi was the competition’s Ladies winner as she finished with a gross 94. Not far behind was runner-up Sandra Tuddenham, also of Yas Links, with a gross 95. 

The nett winners were Ali Cherad (70), followed by Paul Stenhouse (71) in the men’s division, and Leslie Lloyd (74) and Josefina Ratto (80) took the top two honours in the women’s division. 

Waite strikes again in Mashreq Medal

Tie winner: Waite with his medal.

The Mashreq Medal for May, in association with BMW and Ruth’s Chris Dubai, was aclosely-contested affair with three players tying on the overall winning score of 70 around the Majlis course.

David Waite, winner of the March edition, again played superb golf on the back nine holes to secure victory and the Division A honours (handicap 0-10).

Also tied on a net score of 70 were Jignesh Sangani and Dalip Tripathi, and it was Sangani who claimed the runner-up position after countback.

Division B (handicap 11-20) was won by Manish Bakshi with a score of one under par net 71. Ashok Ahuja and Haris Michaelides tied on nett 73 with the former taking the runner-up spot after a countback.

Sudhir Vora was the Division C winner (handicap 21-28) with a nett score of 74.

Sixth XCGC qualifier in Saudi Arabia on Saturday

Winners pose for photographs.

The sixth qualifier of the Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge will be an invitation-only event to be played at Dirab Golf and Country Club, Riyadh, on Saturday, May 23.

Each invited team of two golfers will compete for the chance to win two places in the Grand Final of the region’s most popular, award-winning corporate tournament, which will be held in Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE later this year.

Details of upcoming qualifying rounds, which will be held around the region, are available at www.xeroxcgc.com.

GolfLAN promises to make sport more accessible

Dhruv Verma.

For golfers and those wanting to learn the game, GolfLAN promises that the sport will be no more than a few clicks on your mouse away.

Working through an online platform, led by avid golfer and entrepreneur, Dhruv Verma, GolfLAN seeks to bring together golfers on to a single platform, where they can not only play, but also exercise choice over where to play and on what days and with who they want.

This should be a boon for those who are not members of any club in the UAE. Almost all the golf clubs in the country will soon be available on GolfLAN.

The established golfers, will have a choice of three packages, ranging from starting point – ‘Birdie’ to ‘Eagle’ and ‘Albatross’.

The prices range from $1,361 (Dh5,000) to $4,628 (Dh17,000) with number of games ranging from 12 at the lowest ‘Birdie’ level to 46 at the top.

The Learners will also have three choices – Par, Birdie and Eagle with prices ranging from $545 (Dh2,000) to $1361 (Dh5,000).

The privileges include 10 lessons at the base membership (Par) levels going up to 30 with the Eagle package.

Lessons can be availed over a period of six to 12 months at Dubai Creek and Yas Links.

“GolfLAN aims to be one of the biggest online golf portal in the Middle East by end of 2016,” said Verma, founder and CEO of GolfLAN.

“We plan to invest two million dollars in the Middle East market to build our business.”

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Callum Nicoll delighted with fifth Order of Merit

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On a roll: Callum Nicoll with one of his many trophies.

Callum Nicoll, the 33-year-old Operations Manager of The Els Club in Dubai Sports City, has an enviable record that any professional golfer in the region would like to have against their name – in the five years he has been a member of the UAE PGA, he has won the Order of Merit crown in each of those seasons.

We caught up with the affable Scotsman, who has been in the region since 2009 after earlier stints with Turnberry and Prestwick Golf Club, about his triumphs, ambitions and on the general state of golf in the UAE…

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Five Order of Merit wins in a row… it must be getting a bit boring for you?!

(With a slightly embarrassed smile) No, not really. Not boring at all. Like last year, this year too the Order of Merit battle was down to the last tournament. As it happened, I needed to win or finish second in the UAE PGA Championship to win the Order of Merit. Because there are more points for the PGA Championship, there were a couple of others who could have caught up with me.

It was a fight with Anthony (Buchanan, of Yas Links Abu Dhabi). And like last year, I ended up winning the tournament and the Order of Merit.
I shot a two-under par on the first day and Anthony was something like three or four-over. That gave me a nice cushion, and by halfway through the second round, I knew the Order of Merit was pretty much sealed. So, I concentrated on the tournament. But it was exciting for it to be down to the last tournament. That’s what you want.

Do you feel you have improved as a golfer since you moved to the UAE almost six years ago?

My golf was pretty good when I was in Scotland, and I feel it has got better after moving here. Obviously, the practice facilities and the weather out here are great. The golf courses are great and we do play a lot of competitive rounds as part of the UAE PGA season. And not to forget, I get a lot of encouragement and support from Troon and Chris Brown, who is the general manager here at The Els Club.

Are you happy with your decision to move here? Or is there still some ambition left to try and play some of the bigger tours?

Absolutely. Very happy. As I said, what I love most is that I get more quality time to practice. Back home, the weather can be a bit hit and miss on a daily basis.
There is always an ambition to play competitive golf, but I don’t think I am going back to any Q Schools again.

It’s probably past me. But luckily, in this region, we get some chances to play competitively. We can even play European Tour events and I have played in both the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

I played the Challenge Tour event in Oman, and then there is the MENA Golf Tour.

It’s difficult when you are working, and I think I am at a very good place with my job. My career with Troon Golf and Els Club is getting stronger and stronger. So, I won’t give up competing, but playing on the Tour is no longer a possibility.

Talking of the European Tour events, are you guys in the UAE PGA frustrated that those qualifiers have been taken away?

Look, I can understand the thinking behind the formation of the MENA Tour, and I think it is great for the development of the game in this region. So, the spots have gone to MENA players. But we can always play on the Tour and try to qualify.

None of us have made the cut in the past, but we do have the quality and we can post low numbers on our day. But none of us have any Tour ambitions. So, I think it is good in a way that these spots are going to players who need it more.

What about the UAE PGA? Do you think it’s heading in the right direction? Is there anything that you guys are planning in the future that we should know?

When I came here, Julian (Danby) and Jeff (O’Brien) did some great work with the UAE PGA initially, and then Greg (Holmes) took over. Steven (Munro) is doing a great job with it now. We restructured it a bit and we now have a committee, and I am part of that.

We’re in  the early stages of talks now, but we want to simplify the process of learning for the guys. And we want to do something that most PGAs want to do – grow the game. Hopefully, we will have a junior league by next year. That is something we are very serious about.

You have an amazing golfing background, in that you have worked at Turnberry, which is easily the most spectacular venue on the Open Championship rota, and Prestwick, where the first Open was played way back in 1860. What about that?

Well… I turned professional and joined the PGA when I was 18, and Turnberry was my first job for almost five-and-a-half years. I was not there during any of the Open Championships, but the hotel, the golf course, the lighthouse… it really is a magical place.

Later, I switched to Prestwick, which is the area where I grew up. I worked part time and played on various mini tours part time. There is so much history associated with the club. It hosted its last Open in 1925, but you just can’t miss the history with all these old pictures on the walls of the clubhouse.

It’s quite a unique golf course too, with lots of blind shots. The first hole, when the first Open was played there, was 567 yards long! Can you imagine that length with the equipment they had then?

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Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge ready for sixth qualifier

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Winners pose for photographs.

Teams of corporate executive golfers will join the 17th Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge’s sixth qualifier on Saturday May 23rd, which will tee off at 7.30 at Dirab Golf and Country Club, Riyadh.

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Each invited team, of two golfers, will compete for the chance to win two places in the Grand Final of the region’s most popular, award-winning corporate tournament, and the largest corporate networking event on the greens, which will be held later this year in the UAE.

“Saudi Xerox is a keen player in the golfing community over the past nine years. Preparations are well underway for the upcoming sixth qualifier round. We are in high spirits to support this great event, wishing all the players best of luck to qualify and win”, said Reem Al-Bakry, Deputy General Manager of Marketing from Saudi Xerox.

The top two teams in the invitation-only sixth qualifying round will earn spots in the Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge Grand Final. To be held over 2 days in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in late 2015, the Grand Final will see 41 teams participate from around the region and from South Africa.

Further information about the Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge, including registration to play in each qualifying round, is available at www.xeroxcgc.com. The tournament’s announcements and action can be followed on social media through #XCGC2015.

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