DUBAI // Miki Mirza has set his sights on translating his form to the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) tour after becoming the first golfer to successfully defend the Emirates Golf Federation's (EGF) Order of Merit title.
The Canadian, 29, held off a determined challenge from Michael Harradine by finishing third, with a gross 36-hole total of 146, in the season-ending Montgomerie Dubai Open to take his tally to 225.5 points, to clinch the title by seven points.
The Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht amateur, who plays off plus two, will now be eagerly awaiting news of the schedule for the inaugural tour which has been set up to provide a stage for the region's top amateurs to hone their skills.
Success in the four-stage event, which is due to start in September, would carry the incentive of an invites to play in the European Tour's Desert Swing events in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain.
"I have already signed up for the Mena Tour which will provide a great opportunity to further develop our golfing skills," Mirza said. "It feels great to win the Order of Merit title again, but it wasn't easy this time around. Players like Michael kept up the pressure and I needed to be at the top of my game."
Emirates Golf Club's Harradine did fare better than Mirza at the Montgomerie Open, finishing second on a gross 143, but it was not enough to prevent Mirza from walking away with the overall honours.
The season-long Order of Merit race, which teed off with the Sheikh Rashid Trophy, featured 12 events and points were awarded to the top players on the basis of their performances in each tournament.
This season's race went down to the last event to decide the winner.
Harradine had seized the early initiative by winning the prestigious Sheikh Rashid Trophy, but Mirza played steadily throughout and his season was garnished with victories at Al Ain and Yas Links.
Khalid Yousuf was "not too disappointed" with finishing sixth as the UAE's No 1 player had to miss at least four tournaments due to examinations at the American University in Dubai for an undergraduate degree in finance. Abdulla al Musharrekh, one of three golfing brothers, finished fourth.
"I would like congratulate Miki and Michael, in particular, for their consistent performances during the season," Saeed Albudoor, the general manager of the EGF, said.
"We are also delighted to see UAE nationals make their mark during the season.
"If you look at their performances, it shows, on their day, they can win any tournament on the domestic circuit.
"This year's Order of Merit table also shows there is no dearth of talent in the country and that augurs well for the game.
"We, at the Emirates Golf Federation, will keep working towards creating more playing opportunities for golfers, both national and expatriates."
* Compiled by The National staff with agency
EGF Order of Merit
1.Miki Mirza (DCGYC) 225.5 points
2. Michael Harradine (EGC) 218.5
3. Joel Neale (EGC) 155
4. Abdulla Al Musharrekh (EGF) 148
5. Paul King (DCGYC) 117
6. Khalid Yousuf (EGC) 114.5
7. Daniel Hendry (EGC) 110
8. Alex Charawani (AGGC) 95
9. Khalid Attieh (ARGC) 86
10. Brett Armstrong (ABGC) 85.