PORTRUSH, July 16: MENA Tour member Curtis Knipes, the Leading Amateur this season in the Journey to Jordan, has been handed an excellent draw in the opening two rounds of his dream first major championship.
It’s not Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy, but the 18-year-old goes out at Royal Portrush on Thursday at 0847 local time (1147 UAE time) in the company of England’s Oliver Wilson and Finland’s Mikko Korhonen – two players well known for their amiable nature on the circuit.
The resurgent Wilson, winner of two Challenge Tour events last year and runner-up at Qatar Masters, made it to the Open Championship by finishing third in South African Open, an Open Qualifying Series event.
Korhonen, now ranked 93rd in the world, recently won the Volvo China Open.
The company of the two seasoned professionals should put Knipes in as good a comfort zone as one can expect in a major championship.
Journey to Jordan Professional Leader Matthew Baldwin, the other MENA Tour member in the field, will go out later in the day at 1115 local time (1415 UAE).
Baldwin, winner of the season-opening Journey To Jordan-1 at Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba, Jordan, is featuring in his fifth major championship. He has been paired with the affable Thai star Prom ‘The Dolphin’ Meesawat and Jack Senior.
The three past MENA Tour champions in the field – Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond (2017 Mahasamutr Open), Callum Shinkwin (2019 Omega Dubai Desert Classic Shootout) and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre (2017 Sahara Kuwait Championship) – will tee off at 0836 local (1136 UAE), 1104 (1404 UAE) and 1315 (1615 UAE) respectively.