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Mix of talent set for RAK Golf Challenge

Emerging and seasoned pros in with Mena and UAE amateurs this weekend

Gulf News

Ras Al Khaimah: The final field for this week’s Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge, the penultimate round of the 27-stage European Challenge Tour season, features a mix of emerging talent and seasoned professionals looking to regain their European Tour status — as well as Mena Tour hopefuls and a host of the UAE’s best amateurs.

The 105-strong field will compete for a share of the US$350,000 (Dh1.2 million) tournament at Al Hamra Golf Club in Ras Al Khaimah from Wednesday to Saturday, October 25-28.

Organised and promoted by the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the entry list includes multiple European Tour winners, including Estanislao Goya of Argentina, Sweden’s Mikael Lunberg, Welshman Rhys Davies, and Hichael Hoey of Northern Ireland, who was five European Tour titles to his name, including the coveted Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2011. The top 15 in the Race to Oman will gain or regain their European Tour cards for next season.

“We have a wonderful blend of seasoned veterans and emerging stars coming to Ras Al Khaimah,” said Haitham Mattar, RAKTDA chief executive officer. “This intriguing mix of players and the tournament’s standing as the penultimate round on the European Challenge Tour calendar will make for a fantastic weekend of world-class golf.

“Although our reigning champion Jordan Smith is ineligible, his outstanding rookie season on the European Tour proves that the Challenge Tour remains a fertile breeding ground for nurturing future stars.”

At the head of the field, Tapio Pulkkanen will be looking to extend his healthy 40,000-plus point lead in the Race to Oman rankings. With the top 10 players in the rankings all bound for Ras Al Khaimah, England’s Aaron Rai (second), France’s Julien Guerrier (third), South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen (fourth) and America’s Chase Koepka (fifth) — the brother of reigning US Open champion, Brooks Koepka — are among a host of players intent on closing the Finn’s lead.

Joining the pool of Tour professionals will be a sprinkling of the UAE’s finest. David Laing will represent The Address Montgomerie after securing his Ras Al Khaimah place with victory in the recent UAE PGA Al Hamra — Challenge Tour qualifier. The Englishman shot a fine three-under par 69 to record a two-shot victory over his fellow UAE professionals. Dubai-based amateur Michael Harradine, whose father Peter designed the Al Hamra course, is also in the field for the second year running after receiving an invite from the tournament organising committee and RAKTDA.

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