Dubai: A competitive field of 84 enthusiastic golfers will tee off at the Emirates Golf Club’s Faldo Course on Thursday to vie for top honours in the 23rd Gulf News Merchants Cup Golf Tournament, a popular event where the UAE’s business fraternity soak up their passion for golf.

Held annually since 1996, the Merchants Cup is one of the most anticipated social competitions in the country, and this year’s renewal is no exception.

The format remains a Pairs Stableford (3/4 Handicap) four-ball where the best score out of the two players counts on each hole. Men will tee off from the Blue tees and ladies from the Red tees.

Skills and style are set to flourish on the signature 7,052-yard course which was redesigned in 2005 by golf legend and six-time major winner Nick Faldo.

The top five finishers will win specially commissioned crystal trophies in addition to trophies for competitions like Nearest to the Pin, Longest Drive, Most Birdies, Hole-in-One. Several ‘fun’ prizes will also be given away.

“We are very excited to be hosting this 23rd edition of our annual tournament”, said Rajeev Khanna, Commercial Director, Al Nisr Group, who is an enthusiastic golfer himself.

“The field looks particularly good and it will be a pleasure to welcome all our golfing friends once again. We wish them luck with the game today (Thursday) and may the best pair win!” he further added.

Barney Coleman, Emirates Golf Club manager said, “We are delighted to be hosting the 23rd edition of the Gulf News Golf Tournament on the Faldo course here at Emirates Golf Club.

“The course is currently in great condition and as always the players will enjoy the hospitality laid on by Gulf News.”

The course record for the Faldo course is held by Michael Harradine, who shot a 66 during the Men’s Club Championship Round 1 on January 20, 2012.

Registration starts at 11 am and tee off is at 1 pm