The big tournament buzz is descending on Ras Al Khaimah as the emirate readies to host this month’s Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge – the penultimate event on the 2016 European Challenge Tour – at the spectacular Al Hamra Golf Club, the emirate’s very own home of golf.
Setting the pace in the coveted Road To Oman denouement are a clutch of players that have been in-and-around the top of the Challenge Tour leaderboard all season. English duo Jordan Smith and Sam Walker currently occupy the top two slots on the overall leaderboard, with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox hot-on-their-heels in third place.
Smith, is top of the pile and already has a Challenge Tour 2016 win to his name this season. The 23-year-old Englishman consolidated his position with a second-place finish in the recent Kazakhstan Open, where he finished runner-up to Walker.
“I am really looking forward to it,” said Smith. “I have never been to that part of the world before, so I am very excited to experience the culture of Ras Al Khaimah. I can’t wait to play the course either as I have heard a lot of good things about it. Overall, I’m really keen to get out there and have some fun.”
Walker believes his win in Kazakhstan, the 38-year-old’s second Challenge Tour victory of the season, gives him the perfect springboard to challenge Smith as the Challenge Tour leaders prepare for a shoot-out at Al Hamra Golf Club.
“It is a new venue for the Challenge Tour and because of where it is located I think it will be one of the best places we’ve played at all season,” said Walker. “I have only heard good things about the course and although I haven’t been there myself, I am really excited to go there.”
Sponsored by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge will gather a field of 105 players from 16 nations in a battle for a US $350,000 prize purse. The tournament is expected to draw the region’s sporting enthusiasts to witness world-class action on the fairways.
“International events of this stature cement our vision as an emerging golf destination. As we continue to position Ras Al Khaimah as a tourist hub for adventure and wellness, Ras Al Khaimah is the ideal venue and host to provide first-class facilities for players and spectators alike,” said Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA.
UAE interest will see Dubai-based Michael Harrdine challenging on a course designed by his father Peter Harradine.
“The Challenge Tour has so many experienced and emerging players, it’s always a very strong field,” said Harradine, who also plays for the Swiss national team. “I’ve obviously played a few more rounds at Al Hamra than most of the field but that isn’t really a factor when you’re in a field as accomplished as the one lining up in Ras Al Khaimah in a few weeks.”
The inaugural Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge runs from Wednesday 26 - Saturday 29 October.
The 7,325-yard Al Hamra Golf Club is one of two 18-hole, all-grass courses in Ras Al Khaimah, the other being the 7,199-yard Tower Links course which meanders through a mangrove reserve.
The Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge has attracted a marquee line-up of international sponsors including RAKTDA as title sponsor, Al Hamra Golf Club, RAK Rock, Stevin Rock, RAK Chamber, BMW and Rivloi as event sponsors, and Waldorf Astoria, Voss Water, Wicked, icflix and Nike Golf as event partners.
For more information on the tournament and The Road to Oman visit www.europeantour.com/challengetour