Rabat: England’s Joshua White will be hoping to sustain his hot form and match defending champion Zane Scotland as the only back-to-back winner on the Mena Golf Tour, when he tees off at the Royal Dar Es Salaam Open this week.
White completed a dramatic one-shot victory over Morocco’s Faycal Serghini despite slipping four behind with four to play in last week’s Royal D’Anfa Open in Mohammedia and will be eager to register another impressive display on his first visit to the Robert Trent Jones-designed course in Rabat.
Despite his excellent form, the 23-year-old from London played down expectations. “I am not thinking about the result or any record,” he said.
“The aim is to try and play as well as I can and see what happens,” added White, who finished runner-up to Monaco’s Sandro Piaget after a sudden-death playoff in Oman last year.
“The course is in fantastic shape. If you hit long and straight off the tee, you can do well here,” said the Englishman after playing a practice round.
Italy’s Alessandro Tadini, who has played in many European and Challenge Tour events on the course, believes it will become difficult if the wind picks up, which is unlikely to be the case this week, according to the Met Office.
“The [tree-lined] fairways are narrow and demand accuracy off the tee. Also, the greens are very small and fast. If you miss them, we will find chipping very difficult,” said the Italian, whose career best score at Royal Dar Es Salaam is a two-under 71.
“I think anyone scoring eight or nine under should win this tournament and, if it is windy, a five-under score will do the job,” said Tadini, whose best finish on the European Tour was a top-five at the 2005 Welsh Open.
Spearheading the home challenge will be Faycal Serghini and Younus Al Hassani, an old hand at playing on this course.
“If you ask me, the approach shots and putting will hold the key to winning the tournament,” said Al Hassani, who finished runner-up to England’s Scotland last year.
With the likes of Scotland, a six-time winner on the Mena Golf Tour, Stephen Dodd, a three-time champion on the European Tour, seasoned professional Tadini, Yasin Ali, an Asian Tour veteran, and a 40-strong contingent from Morocco that includes 20 amateurs, in the fray, the tournament has the potential to throw up a few surprises, so common in contemporary golf.
In total, 108 players, including 26 amateurs, will join the starting line-up on Tuesday, representing a perceptible increase in the field from last year’s tally of 57, which included 11 amateurs.