x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

O'Meara hopes for breakthrough golf tour in Middle East

The veteran American Mark says the inaugural Middle East and North African Golf Tour will help develop more top players in the UAE.

Mark O'Meara, a two-time major winner, has seen a rise in interest and improvement in golf standards in the Middle East.
Mark O'Meara, a two-time major winner, has seen a rise in interest and improvement in golf standards in the Middle East.

Mark O'Meara says the inaugural Middle East and North African Golf Tour (Mena) will help develop more top players in the UAE.

The veteran American, a two-time major winner and an ambassador for Golf in Dubai, believes this year's event is going to prove a huge help to budding professional from all over the region.

Despite claiming to be a regional tournament, all four events will be played in the UAE. Organisers dispute this is because of the unrest in some North African countries.

O'Meara, who won the Masters and British Open in 1998, said: "The Mena tour is a welcome initiative, which will provide emerging players with an environment in which they can grow, express themselves both personally and professionally and realise their dream of playing the game at the highest level.

"The region boasts some of the finest golfing facilities and the interest in the game has skyrocketed over the years, thanks to the European Tour events like the Omega Dubai Desert Classic that line up the world's best players.

"All the region's players, both professionals and amateurs, needed were an opportunity to hone their competitive edge and graduate to the next level. The Mena Golf Tour, hopefully, will just be the training ground for them to break through."

Each event will carry a minimum prize fund of US$75,000 (Dh275,000) for professionals.

The first will take place between September 25-28, while the second and third event will be held from October 2-5 and October 9-12 respectively before the Tour Championship to be held from October 16-19.

The field for the tournament will be 109 players and is to be made up of 60 per cent professionals and 40 per cent amateurs.

The venues for the four tournaments are yet to be revealed but the event will be a 72 hole stroke play event. Competitors will play one round on each of the first two days, after which the leading 65 and tied professionals/amateurs will go forward to the third and fourth rounds.