Luke Joy looks to hit right notes at Yas Links Abu Dhabi

Luke Joy will be hoping some “home comforts” and the inspiring presence of Darren Clarke in the field can help him bring his A game to the party when he tees it up at the Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open at Yas Links.

The 29-year-old Englishman, who is attached to the ‘first true links golf course in the Middle East,’ needs a strong finish to make significant strides in the Order of Merit where he is currently placed fourth to seal his spot in the 2018 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

With two runner-up finishes and a third under his belt, Joy has already strung together an impressive streak on the MENA Tour this season, but he is running low on motivational ammunition heading to this week’s event after missing out on the second stage of European Tour Q-School in Austria by a single shot.

“I think I need to re-focus and get back on the horse and ride again,” said Joy who will have his work cut out with 15 MENA Tour winners joining the fray in addition to the 2011 Open champion and MENA Tour patron, Clarke, lending his celebrity status to the Abu Dhabi event.

With the leading players jostling for positions on the Order of Merit, there is plenty to suggest that the excitement level will hit a new peak this week as the MENA Tour fast reaches its business end.

England’s Zane Scotland, who has been battling a back injury for some time, will be hoping to keep the momentum going after coming close but eventually finishing tied fourth last week at the Els Club. Currently placed 33rd on the Order of Merit, Scotland would need to crack the winner’s circle again if he aims to book his ticket for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

With South Africa’s MG Keyser, who currently leads the Order of Standings following his back-to-back wins, playing in an Asian Development Tour event in Malaysia this week, his absence would well open the door for Sweden’s Fredrik From and England’s Jamie Elson to reach the summit along with Joy.

Led by Khalid Yousuf, the UAE contingent, comprising Ahmed Skaik, Sohail Al Marzooqi and Abdalla Al Musharrekh, will be looking to hone their competitive edge ahead of their future engagements with the national team as they join the starting line-up in the amateur division that has attracted 24 entries, including four from Saudi Arabia.

England’s Todd Clements who moved up to 64th in the world amateur golf rankings after the Dubai Creek Open, will be backing himself for another strong showing and consolidate his Order of Merit lead. With his fellow countryman Sam Hobday snapping at his heels, the prognosis points to an exciting duel ahead at a venue that presents the “kind of challenges golfers the world over dream about.”

Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Tour, thanked the Yas Links Abu Dhabi management for their continued support to the tour. They have always been a wonderful host and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure the event is successful.

“It’s great to see UAE national team members, in particular, sign up for the event. The experience that the region’s amateurs gain from competing alongside professionals will hold them in good stead for their future regional and international engagements,” he added.

An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.

A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.

Order of Merit standings:

Professionals: 

MG Keyser (South Africa) 18,774 points

Fredrik From (Sweden) 18,397

Jamie Elson (England) 17,453

Luke Joy (England) 16,420

Andrew Marshall (England) 16,171

 

Amateurs:

Todd Clements (England) 181 points

Sam Hobday (England) 154

Michael Harradine (Switzerland) 140

Tiago Lobo (Brazil) 121

Rayhan Thomas (India) 118

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