By Kent Gray
Saadiyat Beach Golf Club are to host the first official World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) event in the UAE this December.
The Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship will be a 54-hole strokeplay tournament open to male players and will be played on the Gary Player-designed seaside links from December 8-15.
It will be the first standalone event to offer WAGR points although the MENA Tour has offered this carrot for amateurs in recent seasons and helped the likes of Dubai-based Indian Rayhan Thomas and Englishman Todd Clements establish themselves in the global game.
“We have been contemplating hosting such an event for quite some time and after we hosted the [Abu Dhabi] HSBC qualifier last year we realised that there was an opportunity to create a larger amateur championship for not only the local players but also many elite international amateurs,” said Matthew Waters, Saadiyat Beach G.C.s Golf Operations Manager.
“The process of applying for the WAGR status was surprisingly simple however there were quite a few requirements that we had to meet.”
The final category of the Abu Dhabi event will be determined by the R&A once the strength of the 72-strong field is assessed. Waters is hopeful the December slot will prove popular.
“We chose these dates specifically to accommodate for as many amateurs as possible. With the schools breaking up for the Christmas Holidays that week we hope to welcome many of the young up and coming elite amateurs as well as many college athletes on their way back to their home countries for Christmas,” he said.
“The weather is also perfect around that time of year so we hope that many participants can enjoy not only the championship but the many other attractions Abu Dhabi has to offer.”
Saadiyat Beach held a Pro-Am qualifier for last year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The new Abu Dhabi Amateur Championship doesn’t offer that European Tour lure, not yet anyway.
“Not yet….but would certainly be a great addition to the event,” Waters said.