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Mena Tour begins seventh season at Morocco’s Casablanca Open this week

The 2017 Mena Tour season begins this week with the Casablanca Open in Morocco, beginning with Wednesday’s first round and concluding on Thursday.
Craig Hinton in action during the first round of the Dubai Open at The Els Club Dubai on December 18, 2014 in Dubai Francois Nel / Getty Images
Craig Hinton in action during the first round of the Dubai Open at The Els Club Dubai on December 18, 2014 in Dubai Francois Nel / Getty Images

The 2017 Mena Tour season begins this week with the Casablanca Open in Morocco, beginning with Wednesday’s first round and concluding on Thursday. Here are the details.

Debut track

The Mena Tour, now in its seventh year, makes its first stop at the Palmeraie Country Club, a newly opened course situated close to the Bouskoura forest. The tournament, running Tuesday to Thursday, comes one week after more than 50 players earned their tour cards at Q-School. Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the first Emirati to turn professional, was one of the golfers who made the cut at Morocco’s Royal Golf El Jadida, thus earning his playing rights for this season.

A mixed field

This week’s event promises to be keenly contested, with a 136-strong field that includes 19 amateurs. In all, 25 countries are represented. Among the more familiar names are Zane Scotland, the 10-time winner on tour, and Craig Hinton, last season’s Order of Merit champion. There are 28 Moroccans competing in their homeland for the $40,000 (Dh147,000) prize fund. Rayhan Thomas, the Dubai-based amateur who took the tour by storm last year, does not feature after last week playing the European Tour’s Hero Indian Open.

Local knowledge

Faycal Serghini, the Moroccan stalwart on tour who runs a golf academy in Casablanca, knows the course well, having played it a number of times since it opened six months ago. He said: “The course is fairly wide open and will definitely favour the long hitters if they can hit the fairways. As it will be the first professional event on it, you can always expect the unexpected, but I do feel players will have fun on the course, which provides a fair test of shot-making skills.”

Huge incentives

A developmental tour that took root in the UAE in 2011, the Mena Tour offers world ranking points and multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy and the Maybank Championship Malaysia. It also provides full playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour and exemptions into the final stage of the Asian Tour Q-School. This season, the tour visits six countries: Morocco, UAE, Thailand, South Africa, Kuwait and Oman.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Updated: March 12, 2017 04:00 AM

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