x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Zane Scotland aims to stay 'relaxed' in Mena Tour chase

The top challengers to capture the Mena Tour's Order of Merit on the professional side are each taking a different philosophy into the start of the Ras Al Khaimah Classic, writes John McAuley.

With Ross McGowan trying his luck at the US PGA Tour qualifying school, Zane McGowan is the true leader of the Mena Golf Tour's Order of Merit.
With Ross McGowan trying his luck at the US PGA Tour qualifying school, Zane McGowan is the true leader of the Mena Golf Tour's Order of Merit.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The Mena Tour may be entering its "business end" but the main contenders in the race to the Order of Merit crown are trying not to think about that main prize when they compete at this week's Ras Al Khaimah Classic.

The fourth event on this year's schedule sees the challengers tee it up at Tower Links Golf Club starting on Monday, with Zane Scotland the best placed of the 102-man field in the overall standings.

The Englishman triumphed at the season-opening Dubai Creek Open but then posted a disappointing tied-37th at the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open.

Last week at the Dirab Golf Championship Scotland renewed his hopes for the Order of Merit prize by coming home in a tie for eighth.

Scotland now trails Ross McGowan, the Order of Merit front-runner, by US$1,225 (Dh4,500).

McGowan will not participate in any of the remaining three events after travelling to America for the US PGA Tour qualifying school.

Scotland therefore appears in pole position to seal the tour title and with it secure a place at next year's Dubai Desert Classic. However, the 30 year old sounded a note of caution ahead of today's first round in RAK.

"It may be the business end of the tour, but the more you think about winning the Order of Merit the tougher it becomes," he said.

"So I'm trying even more than before to only to concentrate on own game. My game feels fine. At the Creek I felt like I wasn't going to miss a shot.

"That should help this week as I'm not expecting too much. I'll just try to stay relaxed, not put myself under pressure and do the best with what I've got."

Scotland, a former European Tour player, is being chased in the standings by Shafiq Masih, the victor last week in Saudi Arabia, and Stephen Dodd, a three-time winner on Europe's main circuit.

Masih comes into this event as the man in form following his play-off triumph at Dirab Golf and Country Club, yet the Pakistan No 6 insists any Order of Merit ambitions must be put aside as he tries this week to take another winner's cheque for $9,000.

"If my eyes start looking towards the main title it's won't be good for my game," he said.

"The most important thing is to think only about this event, get a good result and that will automatically help my Order of Merit challenge. But I have a lot of confidence. I feel I have the game to get a good result and I believe I will."

Dodd, though, concedes that top spot is occupying his thoughts, yet during the final three events the Welshman, 46, plans to call upon his vast experience.

"Yes, I'm looking at the Order of Merit," he said. "I've come here to do well in that and that's the goal over the next few weeks. It's not difficult to focus because I'm used to dealing with situations - I've been out here long enough. So it's a question of having my game into shape to get myself into position to do well."

Scotland will tee off at 8.11am along with Graeme Stewart and the amateur Karim El Hali. Masih and Doddare in a group with Daniel Owen teeing off at 10.35am.