Ahead of the opening round of the new Mena Golf Tour season in Morocco at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open this week, Steve Elling casts his eye over five players to watch over the coming year.
1 Stephen Dodd, Wales A three-time winner on the European Tour,the 46-year-old Welshman will defend his money title on the Mena Tour this season. In fact, the top three players from the Mena’s 2012 order of merit are in the field this week. Dodd led the list with US$27,636 (Dh101,495), playing in five of the six Mena events last season.
2 Zane Scotland, England Another player with a pedigree on the European Tour, Scotland held the lead on the order of merit heading into the Mena season finale, but was passed on the final day by Dodd, who finished second in the tournament to beat him by US$1,937. Scotland, 30, won the Mena’s Dubai Creek event last summer.
3 Jake Shepherd, England He won the inaugural Mena Tour order of merit in 2011 as a 21 year old and has signed on this week in Morocco. He played in two European Tour events last year, making the cut and finishing 74th at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He turned professional in 2011.
4 Younes El Hassani, Morocco Probably the most experienced of the Moroccan contingent with seven starts on the European Tour since the beginning of 2010. At the age of 39, he has also made dozens of career starts over the years on the Challenge Tour, the developmental circuit of the European Tour.
5 Faycal Serghini, Morocco He is a familiar face and one of the host nation’s more prominent professionals. Serghini, 37, finished 21st on the Mena money list last year and played in all six events. He has played in three European Tour events since the start of 2011. Serghini won an event in Morocco last year when El Hassani was disqualified in the final round for taking an improper drop.