By Kent Gray
They had a decent crack at qualifying in Dubai, eventually secured their spot in the grand final via Ras Al Khaimah before circumnavigating a format curve ball on Earth in the decider. Now Ghazi Aurangazeb and Nicholas Hymas have reached the dream destination in the Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge’s 20th anniversary series – Ireland.
The Track, Meydan Golf club-mates will enjoy corporate hospitality and a spot in the sponsors’ golf day at the European Tour’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in July after being crowned 20th XCGC champions at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Saturday.
Aurangazeb and Hymas were initially unlucky to miss out on qualifying for the grand final (they dipped out on countback) at the XCGC’s second 2018 qualifier at Trump International Golf Club, Dubai in October but got it done with a pairs betterball net score of 61 to win the series’ penultimate qualifier at Tower Links Golf Club early last month.
As winners in RAK, the duo expected to be competitive in the final. What they hadn’t anticipated was a change of format from betterball net to two-man aggregate net off ¾ handicap allowance for the 18-hole finale.
It meant every shot counted on the Earth layout at JGE and Aurangazeb, in particular, stood up, the 17 handicapper signing for a mightly impressive 83 – which turned into a net 70 on his ¾ handicap allowance of 13. Hymas, off 14, had an 88 for a net 77 off his recalculated handicap of 11, giving the duo a total of 147 for a four shot victory over Louis De Villiers and Dirk Bruwer. De Villiers and Bruwer’s consolation is pretty sweet too – Pro-Am berths and corporate hospitality at next month’s Abu Dubai HSBC Golf Championship.
Mark Hughes and Edward Fearn will enjoy hospitality at the $7 million Rolex Series event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club as well after finishing third on 154.
“This is quite unexpected,” said Aurangazeb afterwards. “We got a surprise last night when he [Hymas] rang me up and said ‘have you seen the format?’ and I said ‘what format?’, ‘it’s ¾ [handicap] combined net. I said to Nick, look it just makes it a lot more challenging.”
Hymas takes up the story.
“What we managed to achieve today, I’m still stood here shocked, because it was a very different feeling to what we experience when we play together or practice together,” he said. “Every single shot today, even when we hit fantastic shots, it was a strange feeling because we said, ‘Thank god’, rather than ‘well done’…it really, really did put pressure on every putt and every shot and I think Xerox have found a way to make it a true challenge.”
Neil Phillips and Paul Donovan, meanwhile, secured the gross title with a 161 total. Donovan also captured two longest drive prizes courtesy of Chaps & Co on the 9th and 14th.
Other on course prizes went to Hisham Shammas (Xclusive Yachts’ nearest the pin – 6th) and Ashok Kumar (Chaps & Co nearest the pin – 18th) while Paul Abouchacra/Hisham Shammas (25), Cahal Altman/Kevin Barry (92) and Jai Dawda/Vivek Sharma (44) won prizes for the best combined scores on Earth’s par-3s, par-4s and par-5s respectively. Dawda also captured the Odyssey Long Putt Challenge.
The last word was left to Hymas: “Xerox have not only done a fantastic event today but they’ve also changed peoples’ lives. For me to be able to go and be able to see them [European Tour pros at the DDF Irish Open] close up and to play on the sponsors’ day will be truly fantastic.”