Toby Bishop in action at Al Hamra Golf Club
Toby Bishop in action at Al Hamra Golf Club Image Credit: Andy Crook

If anyone assumed that former Dubai resident Toby Bishop would put his feet up during a two-week break from the U.S. collegiate golf system, they were in for a surprise when they saw the youngster surge to the top of the leaderboard at the Clutch Pro Tour's Al Hamra Championship.

The Welshman, who left Dubai in 2022 to join the Florida Gators, was one of the hottest amateur golfers in the UAE before making the move to the States, winning five events from six to top the Emirates Golf Federation’s Order of Merit.

And he continued that fine form on UAE soil once again two years later, carding a four under par 68 at Al Hamra Golf Club to open up a one stroke lead over Callan Barrow and Ahmed Ali after 18 holes.

“Today was a great round to start the tournament,” Bishop told Gulf News.

“Obviously there were windy conditions out there today which made the course quite challenging, but I feel in control of my game right now.

“Being back at home has really helped. Even though I haven’t lived here for two years, the UAE still feels like home for me, so I have a big sense of comfort out on the course.

“I originally struggled in my freshman year when moving to the U.S., I had a tough first year adjusting and trying to get my feet on the ground, but in my first semester this year I’ve started to see some improvements.

“I still feel that I’m not at that level in tournament play that I was at when I lived here, but I’m pretty confident that all parts of my game have been improving.

“For me, it was just about getting some more tournament reps in, so I was really grateful to get a couple of events under my belt on the Clutch Pro Tour.

“I’m feeling in a really comfortable place, happy being back at home and looking forward to the next two rounds."

The Clutch Pro Tour, which is the official feeder Tour to the Challenge Tour, is making its debut in the UAE this week. The circuit prides itself in being an 'open access' pro golf tour, offering high quality tournaments that provide a platform for player development.

The Emirates Golf Federation received 20 invitations into the event and next week’s Al Zorah Masters, the second of two events on the International Series, which have gone to young professionals in the region, local amateurs and UAE National Team players.