Against the backdrop of Mount Sinai, and fronted by the Red Sea, the European Challenge Tour Members are spreading the word of golf throughout Egypt, as they prepare for the Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge at the fabulous Jolie Ville Golf Resort in Sharm El Sheikh.
The Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge is already being hailed a success in Egypt, and, according to the country’s top ranked professional, Amr Zaki, the presence of the Challenge Tour will be a key factor in the development of the game throughout the nation.
For Zaki, the Egyptian golf champion in 2003, and his four fellow countryman who are set to become the first Egyptian players ever to tee it up on the Challenge Tour, the tournament is a huge step towards improving the standards of Egyptian golf.
Zaki will be joined in the Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge by his fellow professional compatriot Ayman Mohamed, as well as three Amateur players – Amr Abou El Ela, Ibrahim Ezzat and Mohamed Kahoul.
“It is a great feeling to be here for this tournament and we have to thank the European Challenge Tour for coming to Egypt – we are lucky that they have accepted an invitation to come here to our country,” said Zaki.
“There are so many good players on the Challenge Tour that it will be a tough week for the Egyptian players, but it is a challenge that we will hopefully learn from and gain experience of playing at a very high level.
“I do not have too many expectations for the week. I am just going to go out there and try to play well – I think it would be a great achievement if any of the Egyptian players were to make the cut in such a high quality field of players.
“I have played here at the Jolie Ville Golf Resort twice. I had one round at one over par then managed to get to two under the second time I played here, so I do have a little bit of experience of the golf course.
“It is a very good course – one of the best in Egypt. We have 14 courses in the country and I think that Jolie Ville certainly has the best greens in Egypt.”
While the Egyptian players absorb the Challenge Tour experience, Italian Alessandro Tadini – winner of the Costa Rica Open – is hoping to consolidate his place within the top 15 of the Challenge Tour Rankings with a strong showing at the Al Ahram-Jolie Ville Sharm El Sheikh Challenge.
The 31 year old is currently in seventh place on the Rankings with €15,784, and admitted that he was surprised to have made such a bright start to the season after a bleak winter at home in Italy.
He said: “I went out to Central America without any expectations, just to play in the three tournaments and see what happens because we had a bad winter in Italy and I hadn’t played too much or been able to practice that much.
“I was surprised to play so well and to win one of the tournaments made me decide to concentrate on the Challenge Tour for the rest of the season and try to get one of the top 15 spots on the Rankings.
“That will be difficult though, because it is a very tough Tour – I do not see too much of a difference between the best players on the Challenge Tour and most of the players on the main Tour.
“Ok, the courses on the Challenge Tour are not as tough as those on The European Tour, but then the Challenge Tour players have to shoot very low scores to have a chance of winning a tournament because the standard of golf is so high.”
Tadini believes he has changed his golfing mentality following his experience of playing on The European Tour in 2003, and believes he has the temperament to secure a place back on The European Tour International Schedule in 2005.
“I do not think that my game has changed too much since last season but my attitude is a little different now. I think the most important thing I learned from playing on The European Tour last season was to keep calm on the course, which I didn’t always do!
“But when you see the top players in Europe all keeping their cool then you learn from that, and I would say that my way of thinking on the golf course and my approach to the game has been better so far this year.”