DUBAI, November 14: The new-look MENA Tour aims to provide a stairway to stardom for golfers in the region and beyond when it returns in 2019, starting with the Qualifying School tournaments to be held in the stunning Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba, Jordan.
A visit to the Greg Norman-designed Ayla Golf Club course for the Qualifying School tournament will only be one of the many firsts to be associated with the MENA Tour in its new avatar. The players who earn their cards will enjoy a much more compact schedule, as well as increased prize fund for every tournament.
The Qualifying School dates are set in stone now. As many as 150 players are expected to head to Aqaba for the two-section Qualifying Schools to be played over 54 holes. Section A will be played from January 30-February 1, while Section B will be played February 3-5. Players will be able to indicate their preference of which section they want to compete upon entry.
Immediately following the completion of the Qualifying School, the Tour will stage five back-to-back tournaments in the Middle East.
Established in 2011 by the Sheikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour is one of 20 global Tours recognised by the Official World Golf Ranking. That status makes it a strong vehicle for countries in the Middle East and North Africa as it becomes a pathway for players to become a part of team events like the Olympics and other major championships.
“We have listened to our members on various issues and used this hiatus of one year to ensure that we not only have a strong, financially viable Tour with streamlined operation and logistics, but also one that makes it easier for our members to participate and excel,” said Robbie Williams, General Manager, MENA Tour.
“Increased prize funds for every tournament is just one of the many steps we are taking. The minimum purse on offer each week will be $75,000 (an increase of 50 per cent from previous $50,000) and at least three tournaments will have a prize fund of $100,000.
“The Qualifying School at Ayla Golf Club is our first step in a new journey, one which is going to be very exciting for the players and the industry in the region. The response so far has been fantastic. Even before we announced any dates, we have had over 600 registered interests by golfers from across the globe about our plans for 2019 and beyond.”
All players who participate in the Qualifying School will become members of the MENA Tour and receive status (Category 5, 5.1 or Category 7). Professional players who finished inside the top-60 and the top-10 players from the Amateurs Order of Merit on the 2017 MENA Tour will not be required to attend the Qualifying School and are guaranteed entry to every tournament.
With the objective of strengthening regional golf, the MENA Tour will also exempt the top-five amateurs in the 2018 Arab Golf Championship for the entire 2019 season. Amateurs not otherwise exempt are required to go to Qualifying School to earn status on the Tour.
The last date for entering the Qualifying School is Sunday, January 20. Players will be able to get additional information and apply through the Tour website, www.menatour.golf.