The second running of Road to Mongomo Qualifier presented by DSA took place at the iconic Emirates Golf Club in September with competition tense as the pros battled it out to win one of the three coveted spots up for grabs in the US$150,000 2017 Equatorial Guinea Golf Championship – 3e Actuaries Open, taking place at the Presidential Golf Club from December 14-17 and coming out on top of a closely fought contest on the Faldo course was South Africa’s Tyler Hogarty. 

Since the inaugural qualifying event took place at the now-closed Al Badia Golf Club in Dubai last year, the concept has spread around the world with events taking place in  Sao Paulo, Brazil; Ibdan, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa and Harare, Zimbawe and over 360 players competing for 30 spots available in the sub-Saharah Africa event, which features top class male and female players from across the globe as well as some of Africa’s best talents.

The Dubai qualifier has captured the imagination of both the region’s pros and visiting players from the MENA Tour and this year’s edition included a new element with Emirates Golf Club members getting in on the action, each joining with a pro to form a pairs betterball team.

With a bulging field of 64 players taking to the Faldo course, including some fine professional talents, the prospect of a captivating battle for supremacy beckoned and the day did not disappoint with three players returning scores of 3-under 69.

A countback was required to decide a winner and Hogarty proved to have the best back nine meaning he was awarded top spot while joining him on the plane to Mongomo will be second placed Englishman Kyson Lloyd and fellow countryman Ben David who grabbed the third and final place on offer.

“I really enjoyed the qualifier and I managed to be paired with great playing partners,” said Hogarty. “I’m friends with (Abu Dhabi based MENA Tour player) Luke Joy and he told me all about the event in Mongomo. It sounds really cool and different. I believe that the people in Equatorial Guinea really want to have us there and will extend us a warm welcome. I’ve seen the videos from last year and it looks brilliant so now I’m really looking forward to getting to the 3e Actuaries Open in December.”

For runner up Lloyd, who plays on the EuroPro Tour, the prospect of travelling to Mongomo to compete in such a big-money event offers a welcome twist of fate in his season, having only been in the UAE to visit friends in Abu Dhabi.

“I was just in the region to meet two of my friends who work in Abu Dhabi; Matthew Waters in Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Stephen Payne at Abu Dhabi Golf Club,” he said. “I heard about the qualifier and I thought that I should give it a go.

“My season was coming to an end fairly soon but now instead of working in England in the freezing cold I’ll be practicing before I head off to Africa so I look forward to that.

“If I were to win the US$24,000 winner’s cheque in Mongomo it would be the best Christmas present ever. But I think my missus will enjoy it more than me!

“I’ve never been to Equatorial Guinea but I have seen the footage from last season’s tournament and how well they managed it and made it work so I’m really looking forward to the experience and finding out more about the country.”

Third place David added: “It was a great round and it probably was some of the best golf I’ve played. I had such a fun time playing with my partners and the course is set up well. I’m looking forward to trying something new as I’ve never played in an event as big as the one in Mongomo before so I want to give it a go and see how well I can do. I’m excited to see Equatorial Guinea and it is great to be a part of a quality event with a good field. It’ll be nice to see where my game is compared to the players involved.”

The addition of the amateurs to the field for this year’s qualifier created a fun atmosphere that the pros enjoyed as much as their playing partners and taking top spot in the pairs better ball was the team of Kyson Lloyd and Kyle Yun with an impressive score of 65. Taking second place was Latif Rafiq and amateur playing partner Martha Wong with 66 while in third place was pro Antonio Costa and Paul Donovan.  Yun received a Titleist golf carry bag while Wong won a Titleist duffle bag and Donovan, a dozen ProV1s, all kindly donated by Prosports International. The pros on each team were given a Majlis voucher provided by the host venue. There was also a closely contested on course competition for ‘Meatiest Drive’ on the 10th hole sponsored by Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse which was won by Emirates Golf Club’s Lady Captain Najla Bartette.

“We are delighted to again be part of this event,” said Steve Kelshaw, Managing Director of Presenting Sponsor DSA Architects International. “This is DSA Architects second year in supporting our local talent that gives them the opportunity to experience golf and life in Equatorial Guinea.

“3e Actuaries Open Tournament Host Olawale Opayinka has brought this initiative over to Dubai and we are proud to be associated with him. We wish all the winners good luck in the finals.”

The ‘Dubai Three’ will now be flown all expenses paid to Mongomo where they will stay in the five star Grand Hotel Djibloho and compete alongside the likes of PGA Tour player Charlie Wi and defending champion Craig Hinton, who also topped last year’s MENA Tour Order of Merit, as well as high quality ladies field that will feature 2016 winner and former LPGA player Paz Echeverria and the LET’s Camilla Lennarth.

“It’s always a thrill watching talented golfers battling down the stretch to qualify to join us in Mongomo,” said tournament organiser Olawale Opayinka. “This year’s Dubai qualifier was another exciting edition and we send our congratulations to Ben, Tyler and Kyson. We’re very grateful to all those who took part and to DSA Architects, Worldwide Golf and our host venue, Emirates Golf Club.

“The focus now shifts to Mongomo where the Presidential Course will see around 90 pros doing battle from December 14-17. We look forward to an even bigger qualifier in Dubai in 2018 and for now – Equatorial Guinea awaits!”

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