UAE’s Grenville-Wood Seeking First Pro Victory At UAE Challenge

The UAE’s No.1 professional golfer, Joshua Grenville-Wood, is looking to capitalise on home advantage when the second edition of the UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club takes place from April 25-28

The 26-year-old, who began representing the UAE and the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) last year, is no stranger to the challenge the Gary Player-designed masterpiece poses having made the UAE his home five years ago.

He finished in a share of 18th at last year’s edition of the tournament, hot on the heels of his runner-up finish at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Challenge, and hopes to build on that this week, as he targets a first professional victory on the Challenge Tour.

“I know this course pretty well now, I play here a couple of times a month,” said Grenville-Wood, who is 21st on the Road to Mallorca Rankings.

“I’d like to think I have a pretty big advantage, especially with how slopey the greens are and knowing the right place to hit it and the right place to miss it.”

“It’s a different type of golf course to what we played in Al Ain. It was bit more of a putt-fest last week, whereas you’ve kind of got to hit it pretty well around here to shoot a good score.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge more this week, knowing that I can take advantage of my ball striking a little bit more and pick up some more shots.”

If Grenville-Wood is to win a first professional title, he’ll need to bring his ‘A’ game with this week’s field featuring a bucketload of DP World Tour winners, including Alvaro Quiros, Alex Levy, David Horsey, Chris Wood, John Catlin and Gary Stal, who boast 23 victories between them on golf’s Global Tour.

They will be joined by a whole host of the game’s next generation of talent, including Road to Mallorca No.1 Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen, while several UAE-based amateurs will also be competing thanks to the EGF’s long-term partnership with the European Tour group.

As part of that agreement, the EGF received 60 invitations across last week’s Abu Dhabi Challenge and the UAE Challenge to help create playing opportunities and provide a pathway for UAE golfers.

Local amateurs featuring this week include UAE National Team players Ahmad Skaik, the country’s No.1 amateur, Sam Mullane and Jonathan Selvaraj.

‘Major’ tournament winners on the EGF’s Order of Merit have also received an invite and come in the form of Thomas Stephenson, Sam Mukherjee, Raghav Gulati, Khaled Walid Attieh and Oscar Craig, who is the stepson of Tommy Fleetwood, the Challenge Tour’s No.1 in 2011.

“It’s been one of those years where I’ve been taking it step by step,” said Stephenson, who won the Men’s Open at Jumeirah Golf Estates to secure his place in the field.

“I wanted to win the Club Championship, I did that, and then after that I was like ‘right, I want to win the Men’s Open now’ and I’ve done that. Then, getting on the

Challenge Tour, I want to compete, and not just make up the numbers really. I’m here with the intention to win even though I’m an amateur.

“It’s my first time playing in a pro event. I’m really excited about it, to be honest. My boss is caddying for me who’s an avid golfer as well, so we’ll have a nice few days hopefully.”

Meanwhile conservation and sustainability will also take centre stage at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club this week. The club is the only certified Audubon wildlife sanctuary in the UAE and players this week will be sharing the course with no fewer than 194 bird species and around 150 gazelles.

The course also features naturalized lakes which interconnect with the sea and are home to a plethora of sea creatures while an outreach programme in conjunction with Miral which has seen nesting boxes for barn owls and kestrels installed around the course.

“It’s one of the unique things about Saadiyat – you’re in the fairway, 20 feet away from a pack of gazelles,” said Grenville-Wood.

“It’s quite cool when you’ve got them all just sat there munching away on the grass.”

The club even uses recycled water having switched, in 2021, from potable water to treated sewage effluent water as well as moving to the more sustainable Dynasty Paspalum grass for their fairways and surrounding areas.

Single use plastic bottles were removed from the course several years ago and the venue is now fully plastic free whilst the driving range and clubhouse are fitted with long lasting LED lights, energy usage metres are installed on all buildings and infrastructure to track usage and recycled plastic is used for range furniture and water cooler towers.

Golf fans are encouraged to come along to the UAE Challenge, which is supported by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Arena, Phoenix Capital and Al Laith to see DP World Tour winners, Grenville-Wood, Skaik and the stars of tomorrow in action with entry free of charge and no ticket required.

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