High-flying Englishman Jordan Smith eyes up the Al Hamra Golf Club course ahead of the penultimate European Challenge Tour showdown from Oct. 25-28.
Jordan Smith finds himself in the unique position of not needing to defend the title that changed his golfing life but just try keeping him away from Al Hamra Golf Club.
The 24-year-old Englishman has happily returned to Al Hamra in a promotional role ahead of next month’s Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge, the penultimate event of the European Challenge Tour. Smith won the inaugural RAK event 10 months ago to secure his full European Tour card and has cashed in since, claiming his maiden main tour win at July’s Porsche European Open in Hamburg, Germany.
There have been four other top 10s to help Smith to 17th place in the Race to Dubai standings (with €1.078m) and confirm his place in the European Tour’s, top-60 player, $8 million DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
Sir Henry Cotton Trophy rookie-of-the-year honours seem within grasp but whatever transpires in the main tour’s season decider on Earth in late November, Smith won’t forget his second Challenge Tour triumph at Al Hamra last year.
“I’d had a very strong Challenge Tour season last year but winning in Ras Al Khaimah was the icing on the cake,” said Smith.
“Everything is going well but there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think how important my Ras Al Khaimah win was in getting me to where I am today. I’m only really at the start of my golf career, a bit like Ras Al Khaimah, and it’s going to be a long journey but that particular junction was a crucial point in my progression.”
Smith declared Al Hamra in “perfect shape” to host the future stars of the global game when RAK Golf Challenge returns to the UAE’s northernmost emirate from Oct. 25-28.
“The Al Hamra course is in very good condition; you would never guess we’re at the tail-end of a scorching summer season in Ras Al Khaimah. It will be in perfect shape by the time the guys touch down,” Smith said.
“If you can keep the ball straight off the tee and stay away from the lagoons, the course can be relatively straight-forward, but with so much at stake in the season’s penultimate tournament it will definitely test the field, I have no doubts about that.”
Al Hamra G.C. chief Andrew Matthews welcomed Smith’s visit.
“We’ve had the opportunity to run a few changes we’re planning past him – things like pin placements, tee positions and areas of rough – and he was very responsive to the work being overseen by the organisation team and greenkeepers.”
Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, which organises the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge, believes golf fans across the UAE are in for an exciting four days of drama.
“It’s a great coup for Ras Al Khaimah to have Jordan back as we home in on welcoming the rising stars of European golf back next month,” said Mattar.
“As Jordan’s outstanding season proves, the European Challenge Tour remains a fertile breeding ground for nurturing talents that regularly progress to become household names in the professional game. I’m sure this year’s Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge will once again shine the spotlight on the next generation of future stars.”