DEFENDING champion Rayhan Thomas of India leads a 126-strong field from 38 countries for the 31st Qatar Open Amateur Championship beginning at the Doha Golf Club (DGC) on Thursday.
A lot is at stake for players in the three-day World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) tournament, to be played in an individual stroke-play format, as the winner will get a direct entry to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the same venue from January 26 to 29.
The best two Qatari finishers among the nine who are in the fray will also qualify for the European Tour event.
Saleh Al Kaabi and Ali Al Shahrani had the honour last year and the duo would once again lead Qatar’s challenge.
The Qatar Open got a huge facelift when the Royal and Ancient (R&A), which governs the sport worldwide, conferred the WAGR status on it . The recognition means players taking part in the event, under the aegis of Qatar Golf Association (QGA), will be assessed by a ranking system.
“Undoubtedly, this is the best amateur tournament in the Middle East. With the event having a WAGR status, the competitors will be keen to collect maximum points and improve their rankings so as to qualify for big events,” QGA General Secretary Fahad Al Naimi told a Press conference at the DGC on Tuesday.
The tournament is sponsored by InterContinental Doha Hotel and Al Muftah Rent a Car.