Abu Dhabi is set to host The Challenge Tour in the UAE for the first time in five years with two events showcasing golf’s next generation of talent, along with a host of local players bidding to shine on the big stage.
The two events, the Abu Dhabi Challenge at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on 27-30 April 2023, and the UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on 4-7 May 2023, are part of the European Tour group’s long-term partnership with the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF), which aims to develop golf in the UAE for at least the next decade.
Thirty spots in each tournament will be allocated to the EGF to help create playing opportunities and provide a pathway for Emirati golfers. The EGF can also trade these places with other federations across the world to give their players an opportunity to play in Challenge Tour events overseas.
Excitement is starting to build ahead of the Challenge Tour’s return to the UAE for the first time in five years, with Emirati number one Ahmed Skaik raring to go after a year-long injury lay-off.
Skaik, who will be playing both tournaments, is aiming to replicate the form that saw him play his way into the history books just four months before injuring a disc in his lower back, which kept him out of competitive action for a year.
The UAE National fired the lowest DP World Tour round by an Emirati on the opening day of the 2021 AVIV Dubai Championship, with an impressive four under par 68 on the Fire Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Skaik said: “I’m very excited to get out there and play. I’ve obviously played at Abu Dhabi Golf Club many times and during the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they will set the course up for a Challenge Tour event.
“Playing in tournaments like this will help my game, especially coming back from injury. It gives me vital experience of playing in bigger events and under pressure which then helps me deal with pressure in some of the smaller events.”
While the Emirates Golf Federation has 30 spots to use in each tournament, they can elect to trade these places with other federations across the world to give UAE players the opportunity to play in Challenge Tour events overseas, with Skaik expected to play five more additional tournaments on this year’s Road to Mallorca.
The Emirati star will go up against the likes of Road to Mallorca leader Ugo Coussaud, who catapulted to the top of the rankings with victory at last month’s The Challenge presented by KGA, and Matteo Manassero, who remains the youngest winner in DP World Tour history with victory in the 2010 Castello Masters at 17 years and 188 days.
Akram Skaik, Director General of Emirates Golf Federation, said: “The first step for the EGF was signing a long-term partnership with the European Tour group last year and the second step was to bring the Challenge Tour back to the UAE.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to give local players the experience of playing in big tournaments like this, ensuring they get an understanding and exposure to competing against professional players.”
Freddie Schmeisser, Head of Championships at DP World Tour Middle East, said: “We’re delighted to bring the Challenge Tour back to the UAE for these two fantastic events which form a key part of the European Tour group’s long-term partnership with the Emirates Golf Federation aimed at growing the game of golf in this country at all levels.
“It’s fantastic that UAE-based players are getting the opportunity to play with up and coming stars on the Challenge Tour, who are all fighting for a DP World Tour card. The experience they are going to gain is priceless and having back-to-back events elevates that even more. Our players from the UAE know both courses better than anybody so we’re hoping they can use that to their advantage.”
Golf fans in the Middle East are encouraged to come down to both events to support Skaik and the stars of tomorrow with entry free of charge and no ticket required.