Asian Tour boost for Mena golf stars

William Harrold with Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Qasimi, Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the Mena Golf Tour, and Saif Al Shamsi, a board member of the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club, after winning the Mena Golf Tour Championship in October 2012. (SUPPLIED)

The top three professional golfers on the 2012 Mena Golf Tour Order of Merit have been exempted into the final stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School in recognition of the tour’s role in developing golf across the region.

Presented by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the final stage will be held from January 23 to 26 at the Springfield Royal Country Club and Imperial Lakeview Golf Club where the top-40 and ties will earn playing rights for the 2013 Asian Tour season.

Wales’ Stephen Dodd, Zane Scotland of England and his countryman William Harrold - the top three on the Mena Golf Tour’s Order of Merit - are eligible for direct entries into the final stage of the Qualifying School which is the only pathway to compete on the Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour.

“The Asian Tour would like to wish the best of luck to the top-three players from the Mena Golf Tour at the Qualifying School Final Stage in Thailand,” said Kyi Hla Han, Executive Chairman, Asian Tour.

“We fully support the initiatives by the Mena Golf Tour to promote and develop golf in the Middle East and North Africa region and congratulate the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation for its vision and initiatives in running the Mena Golf Tour which I am confident will impact the landscape of golf immensely in that region,” he added.

Of the three top three Mena Tour professionals, Scotland and Harrold have registered for the final stage where they will be joined by Muhammed Munir of Pakistan, Lindsay Renolds of Canada and South Africa’s Anton Haig, who all featured in the six-event Mena Golf Tour late last year.

The significant presence of the Mena Golf Tour players at the Asian Tour Qualifying School is a testimony to the common goal that the two tours share in enhancing the careers of their members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game.

The final outcome notwithstanding, exposure to the competition in the Final Stage will also provide an opportunity for Scotland and William to fine tune their game ahead of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic where the two, along with Dodd, have also been invited to join the starting line-up.

Both Scotland and Harrold are excited at the prospects of competing alongside some of the world’s best emerging talent in the final stage.

“It will be an honour to play on the Asian Tour and we are grateful to them for the exemption,” said Scotland, who finished runner-up to Dodd on the Mena Golf Tour Order of Merit.

"It's been a pretty successful tour and gives me something to aim for," said the Englishman whose burgeoning career was put on hold by a series of injuries after he won a nationwide competition titled Search For A Tiger, aged 14.

Harrold, who only turned professional in February 2012, said: “Playing on the Mena Tour opens a lot of doors for you. The money is good and incentives such as earning a place in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and exemptions on the Asia Tour Qualifying School are added bonus.

“Like the Mena Tour, the Asian Tour is a great Tour not only to develop your game, but also to find world-class competition “

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the Mena Golf Tour, thanked the Asian Tour for their gesture, saying it demonstrates the two tours’ joint goal in taking the game forward by creating a competitive environment for players.

“Our tour events are open to both professionals and amateurs and, therefore, have unique appeal to them. The added incentive of a place in the Final stage of the Asian Tour Q-School is a huge enhancement of the Mena Tour.

“Shortly, we will be announcing the third edition of the Mena Golf Tour which will have more events, more prize money and more potential to launch the careers of regional and international stars.”

A superb new initative by the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the Mena Golf Tour is affiliated to the R&A and the Arab Golf Federation. It is supported by Omega as the Official Timekeeper and Mercedes-Benz as the Official Car Sponsor.

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