Amateur golfers across the UAE are relishing the return of the 2018 DP World Tour Championship ‘Luckiest Ball on Earth’ competition which gets underway in September. The innovative series gives local players the chance of a ‘once in a lifetime’ golfing experience alongside the European Tour’s very best at the Race to Dubai’s grand finale, which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in November.
A total of 21 qualifying events will be held at 21 golf clubs across the region with individual qualifiers for women and men introduced for the first time as well as opening the door for the next generation of golfers with the launch of the Junior Luckiest Ball on Earth. The triumphant qualifiers will seal a spot in the Luckiest Ball on Earth Grand Final, which is set to take place on the Fire course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 4.
The leading female and male player at the Grand Final will join the ‘Luckiest Ball on Earth’ team alongside the Junior Luckiest Ball on Earth winner, where they will rub shoulders with the likes of Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood, 2017 DP World Tour Championship victor Jon Rahm and former World No.1 and three-time Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy in the DP World Tour Championship’s Pro-Am on the Earth course on Tuesday November 13.
“The Luckiest Ball on Earth initiative gets bigger and better each year and we are thrilled to be welcoming separate events for juniors and women in 2018,” said Nick Tarratt, Director European Tour International, Dubai Office. “This is the eighth edition of the Luckiest Ball on Earth and we have seen a rise in participants each year with over 1,000 keen amateurs competing in a bid to play with some of their heroes on the European Tour in 2017. We send our thanks out to the 21 clubs involved and the Emirates Golf Federation who sanction this amazing local golf project”.
The DP World Tour Championship sees the top 60 players on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai competing for a prize fund of US$8 million plus a Bonus Pool of US$5 million split between the top 10 finishers on the Race to Dubai following the conclusion of the tournament.
The Luckiest Ball on Earth competition has proven a sure hit with the UAE’s amateur golfers since the initiative was first launched in 2011. The annual competition has traditionally been open to all golfers aged 18 or over who hold an Official Club Handicap recognised by the EGF (maximum 28 for men and 36 for ladies).
Arabian Ranches Golf Club member Kevin Barrett of Northern Ireland won the inaugural Luckiest Ball on Earth competition and played alongside Italy’s Ryder Cup icon Edoardo Molinari in the Pro-Am before Italy’s Ornella Parigi of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club became the first female winner in 2012 and lined up with Australia’s Marcus Fraser.
In 2013, former Dubai Creek Lady Captain Maureen Platt earned a place alongside Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen in the Pro-Am while in 2014 Dipesh Makwana came out on top against almost 1,000 hopefuls to be teamed up with Race to Dubai runner-up Danny Willett. In 2015, Jairaj Gorsia from Meydan Golf was victorious and was given an unforgettable experience in the Pro-Am playing with England’s James Morrison. In 2016 another Saadiyat Beach Golf Club member took home the spoils with Blanca Rivollier, playing with Bradley Dredge.
Last year’s winner Ghazi Aurangzeb last minute decision to enter the competition paid off after coming through the qualifier and winning the Grand Final he teed off with France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera at Jumeirah Golf Estates. “I entered the competition on a whim and now I’m the champion,” said Aurangzeb. “I think it’s such a great series and in terms of being an amateur golfer I think this is as good as it gets.”