Dubai: Kerala golfer Rhea Nair has been handed a special invitation to debut at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters which tees off here tomorrow.
The 21-year-old, who has just turned professional, was invited by golf in Dubai, the promoters and organisers of the Ladies European Tour event, in line with their policy to encourage and promote emerging players.
Nair’s father Ashok Kumar hails from Kerala while her mother Noor Apsha is from Mumbai.
Nair, who was a student of Indian High School in Dubai, will be the second Indian woman in the 108-player field alongside an experienced Smriti Mehra.
The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters will be held at the Emirates Golf Club from December 6 to 11.
A good finish in her first tournament as a professional could well mark a watershed moment in a career that began in 1998 when, at age 9, she joined the junior programs run by what was then known as the UAE Golf Association.
“Playing in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters is a dream come true for me,” said Nair, who has spent over 10 years in the United States honing her golfing skills.
“I would like to thank Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in Dubai, and his ‘golf in Dubai’ team for their kind gesture in inviting me to play in an event well known for attracting one of the strongest fields,” she said.
“I couldn’t have asked for better opportunity and place to start my professional career. The field is studded with very big names likes Michelle Wie, In-Kyung and Laura Davies, but I have faith in my ability to compete at this level. You can’t guarantee results, but staying focused on the job will be the key,” she added.
Nair’s career-best low round has been a 64 she shot in a qualifier in Alabama.
After learning the basics of the game in Dubai, Rhea proceeded to the US to pursue golf and higher studies.
She first joined IJGA (now called the Hank Haney Academy) and then went to the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida where she passed her High School.
Earlier this year, Rhea graduated from Alabama University where she was a member of the women’s golf team on a full scholarship and played a key role in guiding the team to a string of victories.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim said: “I hope our invitation to Rhea will encourage and inspire other youngsters to take to the game. Her participation in the event is a good advertisement for women’s golf in the UAE, and also for India. I am sure the Indian community will turn up in good numbers to cheer her up.”