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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Darren Clarke in Abu Dhabi to play second Mena Tour event at Yas Links

The 2011 British Open champion has signed up for Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open.

Darren Clarke, who also acts as the Mena tour’s patron, made his 2017 debut at the Dubai Creek Open this month. Mena Golf Tour
Darren Clarke, who also acts as the Mena tour’s patron, made his 2017 debut at the Dubai Creek Open this month. Mena Golf Tour

Darren Clarke will this week play his second Mena Tour event in quick succession, with the 2011 British Open champion having signed up for the Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open at Yas Links.

The Northern Irishman, who also acts as the tour’s patron, made his 2017 debut at the Dubai Creek Open this month, where he finished in a tie for 16th. Clarke had competed on the developmental circuit only once before, coming home joint second at the RAK Classic in 2015.

Two of the tour’s in-form players, MG Keyser and Rayhan Thomas, will not be present at Yas Links when the competition begins on Monday, though, with Keyser playing in an Asian Development Tour event in Malaysia. The South African, who lives in Dubai, has won the past two Mena Tour tournaments to lead the Order of Merit.

Dubai-based amateur Thomas, meanwhile, is in New Jersey to contest the inaugural Junior President’s Cup. Now 31st in the world amateur rankings, he forms part of Trevor Immelman’s International team.

Keyser’s absence provide a number of rivals the opportunity to rein him in in the season-long race, with Sweden’s Fredrik From and English duo Jamie Elson and Luke Joy aiming to make up valuable ground.

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Joy knows Yas Links well given he is attached to the capital club. Fourth in the Order of Merit, he will be looking to improve on two runner-up finishes and a third already this season to narrow the gap and close in on a place at next year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The top three players in the overall standings guarantee a spot at the European Tour event next January.

Joy, 29, comes into the event on the back of last week’s disappointment in Austria, where he missed out on the second stage of European Tour Q-School by a single shot.

“I think I need to re-focus and get back on the horse and ride again,” he, however, said.