Clarke Returns To Dubai Open Looking To End Miserable Season Run Of Outs.

MENA Tour patron Darren Clarke will be looking to earn a first pay cheque this season when he tees-up on Monday’s starting Dubai Creek Open.

Clarke, the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain and the 2011 Open champion, has been grouped with defending champion Rayhan Thomas of India, and Sweden’s Fredrik From, the marquee trio going out at 11am.

Clarke sees his second participation in a tour event after the 2015 Ras Al Khaimah Classic where he finished in a tie for second as a great opportunity to interact with some of the finest talent from the region and give something back to the game.

And also he will be looking to play all rounds of the MENA Tour given Clarke has contested a dozen European Tour events in 2017 and not made the cut in any.

MENA Tour patron Darren Clarke with defending champion Rayhan Thomas, Christopher May, CEO of Dubai Golf, and Robbie Williams of the MENA Tour at the press conference at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club on Sunday

“It’s always fun playing alongside youngsters. I can maybe offer a bit of advice to them, only because there isn’t much I haven’t seen at this stage of my career, and it’s nice to give back,” said Clarke, who has won 22 tournaments worldwide in addition to featuring in seven Ryder Cups, five times as a player.

“With a lot of fresh talent coming through the ranks, the MENA Tour is headed in the right direction and now has an increasingly cosmopolitan feel as reflected in the roll of honour which has seen 46 different winners from 19 countries,” said the Ulsterman, who was also instrumental in attaining Official World Golf Ranking recognition for the tour last year.

“This ranking status has done a world of good for the tour. It’s great to see young Rayhan, the first amateur to win a MENA Tour event last year, crack the world top-50, become the top qualifier for Trevor Immelman’s International team head of the inaugural Junior President’s Cup in September. He is a class act.

“With Craig Hinton winning the Jo’burg City Masters, a co-sanctioned event with the Big Easy Sunshine Tour in 2016, these success stories go on to show golf in the region is in safe hands,” added Clarke, who lauded Mohamed Juma Buamaim, the chairman of the MENA Tour, for his vision which has put the region’s golf on a growth trajectory.

“I have known Mohamed for years, one who lets his work do the talking. Creating a pathway for the region’s golfers constitutes one of the biggest achievements for the tour. No longer a young man needs to ask where should he go.

“Players know the tour is there to cater to all their needs. That’s what this initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation wanted to create and that’s what’s happening. The competition is getting harder and harder and steadily the tour gaining that big-league feel to it, all thanks to Mohamed and his team for creating a competitive atmosphere for the region’s players to grow and excel on a bigger stage.

“Our goal remains to provide players with the opportunity to make the next step while making a positive impact in the community,” said Clarke, who thanked the Dubai Creek management for their enthusiastic support to the tour.

“We appreciate all the hard work they have put in preparing the course which is in great condition and we can expect some exciting golf ahead,” said Clarke who jointly holds the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club course record of a 63 along with Lee Westwood and Australia’s Benjamin Eccles.

Chris May, CEO of Dubai Golf, and Rayhan Thomas also attended the press conference to mark the advent of the post summer season of the MENA Tour.

“We look forward to welcoming players from different nationalities on the MENA Tour. With the great Darren in the field, the event has taken on a special significance. I am sure the script will have some exciting twists and turns,” said Mr May.

“Our golf course operations team have spared no pain in ensuring the (par-71) course is in great condition for the big week,” he added.

An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.

A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.







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