Three-way tie at the top of UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club

With his famous stepfather Tommy Fleetwood on his bag, Dubai’s Oscar Craig shoots a promising first round 69

By Nick Tarratt, Khaleej Times Guest Golf Writer

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Oscar Craig with his famous stepfather , Tommy Fleetwood. - Supplied photo
Oscar Craig with his famous stepfather , Tommy Fleetwood. - Supplied photo

Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 11:47 PM

Three players are tied at the top of the leaderboard on seven under par after the first round of the Challenge Tour’s $300,000 UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi.

In the second of two Challenge Tour tournaments hosted in the UAE, Joshua Berry (Eng), Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen (Den) and Wilco Nienaber (RSA) shot 65’s – all in the cool morning wave when the weather was kinder, with less wind.

Neergaard-Petersen (Den), current leader of the Road to Mallorca Challenge Tour Order of Merit Rankings, had a round of nine birdies and two bogeys while Berry collected three birdies and two eagles, one on each half.

Having started with seven pars Nienaber had five birdies and an eagle in his last 11 holes.

The threesome lead the field by two shots from four players on five under par.

Dubai’s Oscar Craig, (+4.5 Handicap), a 17-year-old member of Jumeirah Golf Estates, had a tidy round of 15 pars and three birdies. This included one on the 18th hole – the toughest statistically of the day - for a 69 to be leading amateur in overall tied 13th spot.

Craig qualified for this week by winning the Al Hamra Golf Club Men’s Amateur Open, which gave him an Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) invite.

Craig is the stepson of the world’s number eleven golfer, Dubai resident Tommy Fleetwood, who is caddying for him all week.

“I played the front nine very solidly and stayed confident. Got to the back nine – my long game was good. At the end, I struggled a bit but holed some putts to balance it out. Overall, I am very happy.

“I will chill out this afternoon – take an ice bath and be ready for tomorrow’s second round with my later tee time.”

Tommy has his own significant history with the Challenge Tour, winning the season long Rankings in 2011.

‘Caddie’ Tommy commented: ”I landed from the US on Monday night. We were here Tuesday morning. Oscar played 18 and then played nine on Wednesday morning as well.

“It was unbelievable today. I told him to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep playing like that. He will be fine.”

The UAE’s Joshua Grenville-Wood, currently 21st in the Rankings playing alongside Oscar also shot a three birdie 69.

Last week’s winner on the Challenge Tour in Al Ain, Dubai-based Garrick Porteous (Eng), who represents Trump International Golf Club, Dubai, started slowly with a bogey six on hole 2 but turned things around with four birdies in his last 10 holes to also return a 69.

John Catlin, the current leader of the Asian Tour’s 2024 Order of Merit and a three-time winner on the DP World Tour, currently sits 156 in the OWGR,. He is six-time winner on the Asian Tour, including the last two events on the calendar in Macau and Saudi Arabia, shot a 71.

The second round takes place tomorrow (Friday) with tee times from 6.30 am to 8.30 am and from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm in a two-tee start.

The tournament is sanctioned by the EGF, partnered by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and sponsored by ARENA, Phoenix Capital and Al Laith.

Leading Round One Scores

(7,681 Yards, Par 72).

J. Berry (Eng) 65.

R. Neergaard-Petersen (Den) 65.

W. Nienaber (RSA) 65.

W. Besseling (Ned) 67.

E. Walker (Scot) 67.

B. Rusch (Swi) 67.

V. Van Veen (Ned) 67.

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