World ranking points up for grabs at Ghala Open Championship

World ranking points up for grabs at Ghala Open Championship
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Published April 21st, 2016 - 14:19 GMT via

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Ahmed al Jhdhamy, OGC vice-chairman (source: Muscat Daily)
Ahmed al Jhdhamy, OGC vice-chairman (source: Muscat Daily)

The Ghala Open Championship, an event of the MENA Golf Tour, has received a shot in the arm, with the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) giving a green signal to award world-ranking status to the MENA Golf Tour.

The US$50,000 Ghala Open will be held at Ghala Golf Club from October 23-26 and it will be the fourth year in succession that Ghala is part of the MENA Tour.

Last year, Muscat Hills Golf Club also hosted a leg of the tour though the organisers are yet to confirm the venue of this year's championship, which is slated for October 30- November 2.

The landmark move to make the Ghala Open a ranking event coincides with golf’s return to the Olympics this year after 112 years.

The decision was taken during the OWGR governing board’s meeting held on the sidelines of the recently-held Augusta Masters in US.

The ranking system will come into effect at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic, that begins on May 2 at Tower Links Golf Club in UAE. The MENA Golf Tour becomes the 19th Eligible Golf Tour from around the world in what is seen as validation of the vast potential of the series in the region.

Welcoming the decision, Ahmed al Jhdhamy, the Oman Golf Committee (OGC) vice-chairman, said, “It is a big achievement for golf in Oman and it underlines the fact that we have top-class facilities on offer for events like MENA Golf Tour and Challenge Tour.

“It is a big boost for the sport in the country and I hope our players benefit from it. Our leading national team players - Azaan al Rumhy, Hamed al Rumhy, Yousuf al Balushi - and others who will play in MENA Tour can earn points in their bid to seek berths for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”

Terming it as a new sunrise for golf in the region, Mohamed Juma Buamaim, the chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, told Muscat Daily, “With OWGR points on offer, the MENA Golf Tour members, especially from the region, can hope to target qualification to the 2020 Olympics as a realistic goal. For any sportsperson, there is no bigger honour than having the opportunity to represent your country.”

Clarke delighted

Ireland's Major winner Darren Clarke, the patron of the tour, told the MENA Tour website, “We are delighted with this recognition, a major step forward for a tour that aims to maximise the region’s potential for golf. The tour is now complete in every sense, one that will open the door to new horizons.”

Clarke, the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain, said, “The MENA region is an increasingly important market for the game as a lot of fresh talent has been coming through the ranks over the past few years. With each tour event carrying world ranking points, the momentum will pick up pace.”

The sanctioning of world ranking points is the latest addition to a raft of incentives offered on the tour that includes multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy and the Maybank Championship Malaysia.

It comes as an addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour and exemptions into the final stage of the Asian Tour Q-School for three leading professionals.

Held under the auspices of Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation and affiliated to the Arab Golf Federation and the R&A, the MENA Golf Tour will hold 20 events in the 2016 season.

© Apex Press and Publishing

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