AQABA (Jordan), Oct 4 — Shergo Kurdi will have a front row seat to a masterclass as the Jordanian teenage golf sensation goes out with MENA Tour patron Darren Clarke for the opening two rounds of the Jordan’s Ayla Golf Championship, starting on Thursday.
Widely acknowledged as an extraordinary talent, the 13-year-old prodigy believes playing with one of the greats of the game in the very first international event at home can do wonders for his confidence and morale as he chases his dream of representing his country in the Olympics, hopefully, in 2020.
“It will be some experience to savour,” enthused the teenager. “I am sure I will be able to take a lot of positives from the week that will stand me in good stead for the future,” said Kurdi, who idolises Australia’s Adam Scott for his graceful style and technical brilliance.
Symbolic of the youth and optimism of golf in Jordan, Kurdi has already served notice of his burgeoning talent, winning the Pan-Arab Junior Championship (Under-15), the Surrey County title in England and making the cut at the Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open last week.
Kurdi first started hitting golf balls at the age of two years old with his father, Musa, and since then he has won an incredible113 junior tournaments, mostly in England where he pursues his golfing career.
“These are still early days, but the aim for him is to represent Jordan in the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics and then, hopefully, the Summer Olympic Games in 2020, or maybe 2024,” said his father, who also lauded the MENA Tour’s ‘Project 300’ initiative that aimed at getting at least one regional player in the Olympics by 2020. Players hoping to qualify for Tokyo must get within 300 in the world rankings.
Kurdi, who is supported by the Jordanian Golf Federation and attached to Ayla Golf Club, will be joined by some of the best talent in the region, including Khalid Yousuf and Ahmed Skaik (both UAE), Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla and Oman’s Azaan Al Rumhy as they lead a strong region’s challenge in the amateur division which has attracted 17 players, including England’s Todd Clements, the current Order of Merit leader.
Headlined by nine winners on the MENA Tour, the professionals will have everything to play for as they jostle for Order of Merit positions in the run-up to the Tour Championship to be held at Al Zorah Golf Club in Ajman from October 23-26.
Buoyed by two top-10s in the last two events despite battling back pain, England’s Zane Scotland, a 10-time winner on the MENA Tour, will be hoping for a strong finish, if not victory, to make a significant move on the Order of Merit where is currently placed 38th.
However, no storyline will be more compelling than the Greg Norman-designed course which is certain to provide a gruelling challenge as it welcomes the first-ever professional event, putting Jordan on the global golf map.
“The course is just magnificent, one of the best I have played in recent years. It will present a fair test to the players this week,” as 2011 Open champion Clarke said.
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 Hassan II Trophy, 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.