His Highness Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presenting trophy to Mustapha El Maouas, the winner of the Amateur Order of Merit title ()
Leading MENA Golf Tour players will be aiming for more glory when they compete against a world-class field in the forthcoming Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club from January 30 to February 2.
The top three professionals – England’s Zane Scotland, Welsh ace Stephen Dodd and rising English star Lee Corfield – and amateur, Mustapha El Maouas of Morocco, from their respective Order of Merit rankings have been given direct entries into the main draw which will be headlined by World Number one Tiger Woods, Europe’s top-ranked player Henrik Stenson and Northern Ireland’s golfing sensation Rory McIlory, amongst other past champions.
Of the four, Dodd is no stranger to competing at the highest level, having finished runner-up to Ernie Els in the 2005 Omega Dubai Desert Classic while Scotland, whose burgeoning career was put on hold by a series of career-threatening injuries, will make his second consecutive appearance in the European Tour event, promoted and organized by golf in DUBAi.
Corfield, the winner of the MENA Golf Tour Championship, and El Maouas, who topped the Order of Merit standings for amateurs, make their Omega Dubai Desert Classic debut when the event celebrates its 25th anniversary.
“The Omega Dubai Desert Classic was the incentive we were all after. And it’s very pleasing to achieve that. I played well most of the times throughout the 2013 MENA Golf Tour. The standard out there, I can tell from my experience, was very good,” said Dodd.
“It's all about results and I got the one I wanted. There are good players on every tour now and wherever we win it's a confidence boost. We must be doing things right if we get the results,” said Dodd, who signed up for the MENA Golf Tour to try and rediscover the form he showed in winning three European Tour events -- the Nissan Irish Open and the Volvo China Open, both in 2005, and the Smurfit Kappa European Open a year later.
Once hailed as the next Tiger Woods when he won a nationwide competition titled Search For A Tiger, aged 14, Scotland was equally upbeat about his chances in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“The (MENA) Golf Tour is just the platform the players need to put their careers on track. Where else, can you get the opportunity to play in world-class events like the Omega Dubai Desert Classic? If I continue to play the way I did on the tour, I think I stand a good chance of posting a good finish,” said Scotland, who topped the Order of Merit for professionals, punctuated with four title wins.
England’s Corfied, who made it to the 2013 MENA Golf Tour after finishing runner-up on the United Kingdom's Jamega Golf Tour Order of Merit, is also rubbing his hands in anticipation. “It will be a big moment in my career and I can’t want to get started.
"I think, the MENA Golf Tour is going to be very big in the next few years. The structure is great and organization just fantastic," said Corfield, who overcame a five-shot deficit in the final round of the MENA Tour Championship to beat overnight leader Faycal Serghini in a playoff.
All eyes will be on El Maouas, who became the second Moroccan after Ahmed Marjan to win the Amateur Order of Merit title. "I am really pleased with my performance. I am looking forward to playing in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which is one of the biggest tournaments on the European Tour,” he added.
“I know there are many big names in the field, but I have faith in my abilities. You can't put a price on what you learn from the European Tour events; it's an opportunity money can't buy. So it's perfect, really,” he added.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi, said: "The intention behind inviting the top MENA Golf Tour players to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic is to try and substantially enhance their careers.
“The players, I am sure, will have that extra bit of confidence going into the event since they know they have earned these invitations through all the hard-work they put in during the season.
“With so much strength in depth, the MENA Golf Tour will encourage more people, especially from the region, to take up golf. One day, we want to see Arab players doing well on the international circuit and making a name for themselves.”
‘golf in DUBAi' is backed by Omega as the title sponsor and Dubal (Dubai Aluminium) as the sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, Mercedes-Benz and wasl while Dubai Duty Free, Carpetland and Motivate are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.