Entries are coming in thick and fast from the professional golfing community with the region’s club pros and a host of MENA Tour players looking to book their spot on the plane for a golfing adventure of a lifetime when the Road to Mongomo Qualifier presented by DSA gets underway at Emirates Golf Club on September 21st.
Taking place on the Faldo course, which is currently in pristine condition, the event – one of six qualifiers taking place around the world – will see the top three finishers win through to the Equatorial Guinea Golf Championship, 3e Actuaries Open in Mongomo. There they will be joined by some of the best players from Africa as well as a host of top players from tours around the world including the LPGA, the Ladies European Tour and even the PGA Tour.
Not only will the qualifiers enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to a fascinating and little known part of the world, where they will stay in five-star luxury at the Grand Hotel Djibloho, there will also be a sizeable prize fund of US$150,000 for men and US$100,000 for ladies.
England’s Jordan Garnish came out on top of last year’s Road to Mongomo Qualifier at Al Badia and enjoyed a trip to remember in sub-Saharan Africa. “Winning the qualifier last year was great,” says Garnish. “It was a really well organised event and the victory helped give me a lot of confidence for the end of the season on the MENA Tour.
“The week in Equatorial Guinea was fantastic. The field has some really strong players such as Charlie Wi from the PGA and the Presidential Course, where the event in Mongomo is played, is one of the best layouts I’ve ever seen. We stayed in a stunning hotel and were given a wonderful welcome in Equatorial Guinea. The whole experience was amazing and I’d recommend the tournament to anyone.”
Garnish’s fellow countryman Craig Hinton grabbed the fifth and final spot that was up for grabs at Al Badia last year after a tense four-man play-off. Shortly afterwards, he was crowned MENA Tour Order of Merit Champion and he capped off a wonderful 2016 by going to Mongomo and taking top spot in the men’s competition, scooping the US$24,000 winner’s cheque in the process.
“I really enjoyed the qualifier last year, having an 18-hole shootout with live scoring really made it interesting with all players keeping one eye on the leaderboard the whole way round, which added to the pressure,” says Hinton. “I can remember keeping a close eye on (MENA Tour player) Lee Corfield’s score in the closing holes and his late bogey resulted in the four-man play-off.
“I managed to squeeze my way through the play-off and then to go on to win in the main event which truly was a great way to close out the year. One of my friends on the MENA Tour, Luke Joy, had told me great things about the event, and I’ve always enjoyed seeing new places. It was certainly a very different experience to any event I had competed in before. We normally travel alone or in a small group, whereas this felt like all the players were brought together.
“The event host Olawale Opayinka’s hospitality during the week was outstanding. What a genuine, kind and giving person he is. We had a few travel hiccups on the way but his positive attitude the whole time allowed for such a great trip.
“The golf course is an outstanding layout and one that I would certainly not get bored of playing day in day out and one moment in my life I will never forget and I’m truly thankful to have experienced was the closing ceremony. I was surrounded by local boys and girls that were cheering and chanting. It was so humbling and really gave a meaning to the tournament. I can’t wait to get back and defend my title this year.”
This year’s Road to Mongomo Qualifier presented by DSA at Emirates Golf Club will feature a new element as the club’s members will gain an opportunity to compete alongside the pros with a betterball medal running alongside the individual competition.
Club Manager Barney Coleman said: “We at Emirates Golf Club naturally have a strong affinity with the professional game through our proud hosting of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. It has always been high on our agenda for our members to experience the Pro-Am format and a member benefit over the past season was the introduction of a Pro-Am series where over 200 of our members competed in the Pro-Am’s.
“We’re thankful for the support of the UAE PGA Professionals along with the MENA Tour members who participate in our events and the Road to Mongomo UAE Qualifier presented by DSA is another fantastic opportunity for our members to play with the best professionals in the region.
“We’re delighted to be hosting such a unique event and it would be fitting if at least one of the three qualifying professionals is a regular from our Club Pro-am Series. The prize on offer for the top three pros is fantastic and we wish all competitors the best of luck over our Faldo course for a place in the Equatorial Guinea Golf Championship, the 3e Actuaries Open in Mongomo.”
Professionals wishing to enter should please email: firstname.lastname@example.org