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Following the successful debut of the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge last year, the UAE’s most northern emirate is readying to once again host the penultimate tournament of the 2017 European Challenge Tour – the official development tour of the PGA European Tour.
Running at the spectacular, lagoon-wrapped Al Hamra Golf Club from 25-28 October 2017, this year’s Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge will feature a 105-strong field of leading European Challenge Tour talents mixed with a sprinkling of local qualifiers and sponsors invitees.
Having stormed to victory in the inaugural Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge en route to securing his first PGA European Tour card for the 2017 season, England’s Jordan Smith – who, as per tour rules, is ineligible to defend his title – had some encouraging words for this year’s challengers.
“I obviously have only good memories of the event because I won it but it was a great week – I loved everything about it,” said Smith. “The course was awesome, really nice but tricky in places. It’s quite wide and open which is nice but there are also lots of water hazards; you’ve also got the last hole running along the water which added to the pressure going down the last. It was a new event on the calendar but everyone really enjoyed it. It’s so convenient from Dubai but we stayed in Ras Al Khaimah near the course, right on the beach and it was beautiful. It was a great place to be and a great week for me.”
With Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the tournament organiser, exercising its right to stage this year’s event as the second instalment of its three-year deal with the European Challenge Tour, Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAKTDA, is eager to welcome the tour’s leading players back to the emirate.
“The Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge is the emirate’s largest international sporting event and hosting the penultimate round of the European Challenge Tour is a tremendous privilege for the RAKTDA and everyone connected to the event,” said Mattar.
With the full player field due to be finalised in coming months, Mattar revealed RAKTDA is already working with the emirate’s tourism stakeholders to create a series of stay-and-watch packages so golf fans from across the UAE and beyond can experience the tournament and Ras Al Khaimah’s ever-expanding tourism attractions up-close.
“Armed with the experiences of last year, we are working hard to deliver another world-class event that will add further shine to our expanding sporting and cultural activities calendar. We are continuing to work closely with the European Challenge Tour and our industry partners to ensure we highlight the full glory of Ras Al Khaimah and its unique natural landscapes to inbound fans. We are also working on an expansive, post-play entertainment schedule to ensure the emirate’s residents truly embrace the tournament this year.”
Residents aside, Nick Tarratt, the Director of the Dubai office of the PGA European Tour, added that Challenge Tour players are already talking about returning to the emirate.
“The players were so well looked after and the tournament was exceptionally well received. From the welcome the players received at Al Hamra Golf Club and the luxurious settings in their hotels, to the passionate spectators lining the course and the wonderful Ras Al Khaimah weather in late October – everything was perfect. The emirate is ready-made for tournament golf.”
For more information on the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge and The Road to Oman 2017 visit www.europeantour.com/challengetour.
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