Grand Final set for Dubai

Dubai will once again be at the epicentre of the golfing world when the European Challenge Tour reaches its climax in the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club from Wednesday 5 to Saturday 8 November.

The season-ending grand finale is the culmination of the 2014 Challenge Tour season which takes in 27 tournaments played across 21 different countries offering a total prize fund of €6,328,000.

Al Badia Golf Club by InterContinental will welcome the top 45 players on the Challenge Tour Rankings following the previous week’s National Bank of Oman Golf Classic to compete for not only the prestigious title but a coveted spot in the top 15 on the Challenge Tour Rankings to earn a card for the 2014/2015 European Tour season.

The tournament marks the second year of a three-year relationship between the European Challenge Tour and Al Badia Golf Club after India’s Shiv Kapur roared to a four-stroke victory over Scotland’s Jamie McLeary and Portugal’s Jose-Filipe Lima in last year’s captivating event.

“One of our key initiatives for the 2014 staging was to work on a strategy to attract more of the UAE community to the event, to share in the great experience of the Challenge Tour Grand Final,” said James Shippey Golf Club Manager, Al Badia Golf Club.

“We felt that the tournament finishing on a Saturday would be a great thing as this falls over the UAE weekend and will give people the opportunity to attend the tournament without having to take a day off work. This is coupled with a focus on getting golf into the community through offering free golf lessons every day and providing complimentary food and beverage to all attending the event. We look forward to welcoming many new and familiar faces to the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final.”

This year sees a €20,000 increase in the prize fund to €350,000, with €60,085 for the winner, while the format will remain 72 holes with no cut. Current Challenge Tour Rankings leader Moritz Lampert, a three-time winner this season who has already won automatic promotion to The European Tour, has confirmed he will join the field in the 2014 Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club.

“We are delighted to be returning to Al Badia Golf Club and Dubai Festival City for the second edition of our prestigious season-ending tournament,” said Alain de Soultrait, Director of the Challenge Tour.

“The Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club proved a massive success in its first staging in the United Arab Emirates last year, and we are confident of building on those solid foundations with another superb tournament in November.

“All of the elements are in place for this year’s event to showcase the very best that our Tour has to offer, as the already magnificent course at Al Badia has been lengthened and tightened to truly test the cream of the Challenge Tour, while a new chipping facility offers further evidence of the vast improvements that have been made to what was already one of the most comprehensive facilities we have visited.

“We extend our gratitude to Al Badia Golf Club for all the work they are putting in to make this tournament such a success, whilst the backing of the Al Futtaim Automotive Group, Al Futtaim Group Real Estate and InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) is also fundamental to the growth of the event. Our thanks also go to the R&A, Rolex and Abacus for their continued support.”

The Challenge Tour has proved a crucial breeding ground for the next generation of European Tour stars and five of this year’s European Ryder Cup team (not withstanding Captain’s picks) – Henrik Stenson, Jamie Donaldson, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Bjorn – are former Challenge Tour players.

Last year’s Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club winner, Shiv Kapur, who earned his European Tour card after leaping from 20th to third in the Challenge Tour Rankings courtesy of the win, is currently 72nd on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and within striking distance of a spot in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship taking place at Jumeirah Golf Estates from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 November.

Tyrell Hatton, another 2013 Challenge Tour graduate, who finished tied sixth in last year’s Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final, is enjoying a strong season on The European Tour having posted three top 10s, including tied second at the Joburg Open and tied fourth in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and is currently 52nd on The Race to Dubai.

The Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club is sanctioned by the Dubai Sports Council, the Emirates Golf Federation and the DTCM.