Oscar Craig
Fleetwood keeps a close eye on Craig during a practice round ahead of the UAE Challenge Image Credit: Supplied

Few players in this week's UAE Challenge field can claim the support of a seven-time DP World Tour champion and two-time Ryder Cup winner as their caddie. However, Dubai-based Oscar Craig finds himself in precisely that enviable position.

Craig, who secured his place in the tournament after winning the Ras Al Khaimah Men’s Open, is the stepson of World No.11 Tommy Fleetwood, who will trade his role at challenging for titles to serve as Craig’s bagman at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, when play begins on Thursday.

“I feel good to be fair, but I’m dead nervous,” said Craig, who is making his first start on the Challenge Tour this week.

“It’s like excitement nerves, but I’ve got Tommy on the bag this week, which kind of helps the nerves a bit.

“I’ve been travelling with him a little bit, going on Tour and stuff, so I’ve kind of learned what the vibe is. I’m just going to try and get on with it and play the golf I know I can.”

While Craig is no doubt looking to forge his own pathway into the professional game, the 17-year-old amateur recognises the invaluable guidance his stepdad can offer him this week.

Three of Fleetwood’s DP World Tour titles have come right here in the UAE, two at the Abu Dhabi Championship and one at this year’s Dubai Invitational, while the Englishman also set-up the Tommy Fleetwood Academy at Jumeirah Golf Estates in 2022.

“Obviously it helps experience-wise as he knows what he is doing,” said Craig, who plays off an impressive handicap of +4.5.

“It also helps calm me down because he’s been through it all before. What he’s telling me I need to do to calm down, not even calm down, just manage my nerves in the right way, is really cool. That’s very beneficial.”

With Craig securing one of the thirty invites available to the Emirates Golf Federation this week for local pros and amateurs, he’s hoping to grab the unique opportunity with both hands and show what he’s capable of on the Gary Player-designed masterpiece.

“Subconsciously I want to make the cut,” he said.

“But I just want to make sure that I try my hardest on every single golf shot I hit. Just take it one step at a time, and I also think that will help take the nerves off rather than thinking ‘I’ve got be at this score to make the cut’.

“Just try my hardest on every shot and take it step by step.”

Thirteen years ago, a then 20-year-old Fleetwood’s journey to stardom arguably began on the Challenge Tour when topping the season-long Order of Merit to secure a place on the DP World Tour.

With the Tour known as a breeding ground for success for many of the game’s star names, including Major winners Brooks Koepka and Matt Fitzpatrick, does Craig believe he can one day sit at the summit of the Road to Mallorca Rankings, just as his stepdad did in 2011?

“I hope so, I do hope so!” he says.

“I’m working as hard as I can, so we’ll see where that takes me. It’s obviously a dream, even playing this week is such a dream.

“I couldn’t get to sleep Sunday night before tournament week, I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get going. I’m going to make the most of it and embrace it.”