Dubai: Current Mena Tour No 1 David Langley is suddenly rethinking his plans to play a full summer schedule of mini-tour golf in Europe.
His fellow Englishman Luke Joy (Eng), a two-time winner on the Middle East and North Africa circuit, agrees the “new route with the Mena Tour and the Asian Tour would probably be quite a good avenue to go down.”
Joshua Grenville-Wood (The Els Club, Dubai), a member of both the Mena and Asian Development Tours (ADT), says the new strategic alliance is simply ‘fantastic.’
If you’re getting a strong whiff of excitement from the players ahead of the Beautiful Thailand Swing (BTS), wait until you talk with David Spencer. The Mena Tour Commissioner is adamant the start of the Mena Tour’s co-sanctioning agreement with the ADT — with all the associated Asian Tour incentives — is arguably the most important development in the circuit’s 11-year history.
It’s not PR hyperbole either, not with significant changes to the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) on the horizon — and ominously so for smaller development tours.
Enhanced OWGR status
“The OWGR start their new system in August and it will change OWGR development tours forever,” said Spencer on the eve of the Laguna Phuket Challenge, the first of four BTS events offering a combined $300,000 in prize money and, more importantly, enhanced OWGR status over the next three weeks.
“Under the new system, players will very quickly gravitate to the development tours that provide a clear pathway to the main tours and more extensive playing opportunities for their members.
“That is why we are extremely excited about the inaugural ‘Beautiful Thailand Swing’ as it is our first series of co-sanctioned events with the Asian Tour. I believe the alliance between the Asian Tour and the Mena Tour marks the first step in something that is going to be great for players from all over the world.”
Comprising the Laguna Phuket Challenge (May 3-5), Laguna Phuket Cup (May 8-10), Blue Canyon Classic (May 13-15) and Blue Canyon Open (May 18-20), the BTS is the first tangible outcome of the Asian-Mena Tour strategic alliance, which was penned late 2021 with lofty ambitions.
First building block
It will decide the now rebranded ‘2020+ Journey to Jordan’ Order of Merit race in what is the first action for the Mena Tour in more than two years following its pandemic enforced shutdown. The top-10 players in the final J2J standings will receive invites to the next two ADT events, exemptions to the final stage of 2023 Asian Tour Q-School and, for the champion, a start in one of the Asian Tour’s new $1.5 million-plus International Series events.
A full merger of the ADT and MENA Tour is mooted for 2023.
Spencer said: “Our combined vision is to become the best development tour outside of the United States. The Beautiful Thailand Swing will act as the first building block in making this vision a reality.”