Dubai: A young crop of women golfers will be waiting to shine through as Dubai prepares to host the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic at the Emirates Golf Club (EGC) in the first week of next month.
Scheduled to be held on the famed Faldo Course at Emirates Golf Club from November 4-6, the event will see three gritty young golfers - Amy Boulden, Diksha Dagar and Julia Engström - part of a field of 56 players competing for the $285,000 (Dhs 1.04 million) prize fund with five players from the confirmed field in the top-50 and one player in the top 10.
Golfing superstars are not usually associated with acts of courage and determination, but this year’s tournament will feature a line-up of golfers who have played an extraordinary role in terms of setting a sporting example, particularly when it comes to female empowerment.
The three-day competition is the latest event aimed at inspiring the next generation of young girls to set out in pursuit of their dreams and to overcome perceived barriers. The tournament will mark the return of sporting events to Dubai and take place under the appropriately named theme ‘Time to Shine’.
From a young age, Welsh golfer Boulden was touted as a future superstar of the game. From the age of 13, Boulden had one of the most successful amateur careers in golfing history, winning three Home Internationals, representing Europe in the PING Junior Solheim Cup and being named BBC Wales Young Sportswoman of the Year.
Boulden’s breakout potential seemed to be coming together as she turned professional at the age of 21. In her first season in 2014, she won her first tournament at the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open and went onto become the LET Rookie of the Year, after she made 12 cuts in 16 tournaments.
However, as the years progressed a first tournament victory on the Ladies European Tour continued to elude her as well as an unsuccessful attempt to secure playing rights on the LPGA tour. This slump in form resulted in the loss of her tour card in 2019 and it was at this point that Boulden re-evaluated her own place in the game.
However, after showing serious resolve, Boulden took an important first step, regaining her place on the 2020 Ladies European Tour with victory at Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain, earlier in January this year.
Despite the pandemic and ongoing lockdown, Boulden was not yet done with 2020, as she stormed to victory in the VP Bank Swiss Ladies Open, her Maiden Ladies European Tour Win. Boulden’s victory in Switzerland was reminiscent of the sort of golf that saw Boulden originally first burst onto the scene in 2014 and means she now sits in fifth place on the Race to Costa del Sol European rankings, ahead of next month’s Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic.
The second young tough competitor is Dagar, the youngest Indian woman to win on the distinguished Ladies European Tour when she claimed victory in 2019’s South African Women’s Open when just 18 years old. A phenomenal achievement in itself – made all the more incredible with Diksha being born deaf.
Commenting on the similarities between 2020 and facing adversity, Dagar said: “In such a difficult year as 2020, just being able to play in tournaments such as the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic make me incredibly lucky. To be able to play professional golf is all thanks to my family and the people around me for offering me guidance, support and encouragement. Being born deaf, I never knew what it was like to hear or that I was missing anything. It’s this attitude that has allowed me to turn pro and compete with the attitude that I can play with the best.
Sweden’s Engström, at just 19, has had a fantastic 2020 so far, winning her maiden LET golf title with a sensational victory in Australia at the Women’s NSW Open.
Engström continued her fine form, quickly following up her first victory with a second at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in September, after carding a hole-in-one en route to a second round 64 (-7). With that win, she is currently top of the LET 2021 Solheim Cup Points leaderboard and second on the Race to Costa Del Sol, a remarkable achievement in just her third year as a professional.
Formerly known as the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, the inaugural tournament was played in 2006, with a strong roll call of previous winners, including two-time winner, Annika Sorenstam, and four-time champion, Shanshan Feng. Sorenstam won the first two events back to back in 2006 and 2007, while Chinese former world no.1, Feng, dominated from 2014-2016, winning the tournament three times in-a-row.
Further information on the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic can be obtained at: https://www.OMEGAdubaimoonlightclassic.com/.