By JOY CHAKRAVARTY
DUBAI (UAE): Another remarkable piece of history was made on the MENA Tour by Arena when Jordanian amateur Shergo Al Kurdi became the first player from the GCC and Middle East countries to earn Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points with his incredible finish at the $75,000 Journey to Jordan #1, the opening event of the 2020 season, on Wednesday.
At Ayla Golf Club in Aqaba, Jordan, the 16-year-old Al Kurdi shot rounds of 70, 70 and 69 to aggregate seven-under par 209, which gave him a tied second position behind champion David Langley of England on Wednesday.
Al Kurdi finished tied alongside England’s Jamie Rutherford and Tom Sloman, which means he earns one invaluable OWGR point, first ever for a player from the region that now hosts six events on the European Tour annually, including the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
When the new world rankings are released on Monday, Al Kurdi is expected to rise to around No.1685 from his current unranked position.
The most significant aspect of a player achieving the Official World Golf Ranking status, especially from developing golf nations, is that it is mandatory if their home country wants to become a part of the Olympics. The eligibility for Olympics is through the Olympic Golf Ranking (OGR), which is completely based on OWGR. Golf made a return to the quadrennial Games in 2016 and has caught the fancy of most leading players. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have gone on record recently on how much they want to be a part of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“I think it is a fantastic achievement for me to get OWGR points and I am really surprised that I am the first player from the region to do so,” said Al Kurdi when the news was broken to him.
“Obviously, this is going to be a great help for me when I try to qualify for the 2024 Olympic. Representing Jordan in the Olympics has always been one of my biggest dreams in the game.
“I am so proud that I have done this playing in Jordan because it is not very easy to perform well when you are playing in your home country.
“I want to thank the Al Masri family of Ayla Oasis Development who have given me such great support and also to Mr Sahl Dudin, the Managing Director of Ayla Oasis. My dad deserves a special mention as he was brilliant on my bag this week, encouraging and pushing me to give me best all week. Obviously, his support over the years is something that has kept me going.”
Al Kurdi also had a special; word of thanks for the MENA Tour by Arena, the only regional Tour which provides a pathway to Olympics for the players by offering OWGR points.
“I really want to thank the MENA Tour for what they have done for golf in the region. I have obviously benefited hugely from the increased level of competition. They are a professional Tour, but they have been very encouraging of us amateurs by giving us this fantastic opportunity,” added Al Kurdi.
“There are players from all around the world playing on the MENA Tour and I have learned a lot just being a part of it. I really hope that more players from the Middle East realise the immense value of being part of the Tour.”
David Spencer, Tour Commissioner, MENA Tour by Arena, said: “We are so proud of Shergo and what he has managed to achieve at such a young age.
“The MENA Tour by Arena was established with this specific objective in mind and we feel validated of all the work that has been put behind the Tour. Having a player from the region qualify for the Olympics is our cherished objective, and Shergo is now well on his way.”
The MENA Tour by Arena returning to the world schedule after a year of restructuring in 2019 and featured 10 tournaments. The number of tournaments have been increased to 11 this season and various incentives are on offer for the members, including guaranteed starts in several European, Challenge and Asian Tour events.
Shergo’s achievement comes after the brilliant run by Dubai-born amateur Josh Hill last year. The 15-year-old won the Amateur Journey to Jordan in stunning fashion, which included a win at the Al Ain Open by Arena – making him a Guinness Record-certified youngest winner of an OWGR-recognised tournament.