Morgan Cain and Stephen Riordan in UAE golf action

Morgan Cain and Stephen Riordan were in the United Arab Emirates last week, the Cork pair were taking part in the Faldo Series Grand final which saw close to 60 golfers from over 20 countries take part in the 54-hole event.  The Cork lads qualified for the final back in August in Luttrellstown Castle and along with Lauren Kelly book their place at Al Ain.  Morgan Cain from Cork Golf Club finished in 5th place, on 7 under par for his three rounds.

Cain shot rounds of 70, 67 and 66, and the final round 66 included a birdie on the last which ensured he had a top-five finish.  Cain is no stranger to playing at the highest levels, he represented Cork in Senior Cup and Barton Shield this year and he won the Douglas Scratch Cup in September.

He was delighted with the trip to Al Ain. “We went out three days before the competition and played two practice rounds out there.

“It was an unbelievable week really, I went over with Stephen, and we met loads of new people from all over the world.

“The course was pretty scoreable, although it wasn’t the shortest on the card it played much shorter than it would of back home.

“The ball obviously went much further out there, I found myself hitting two clubs less pretty much all the time.  “It had two short par 4s which I took advantage of all three days. The standard was much better than I first realised.  “There were players from all around the world who I had never heard of but later realised how good they were.  “This was shown by their WAGR ranking with multiple players inside the top 1000.”

While many golfers might be winding down after a busy season, Cain had to stay sharp.  “I have played a bit since Douglas alright, more than I normally would this time of year. I was still shooting good scores on the weekend in competitions, so I knew my game was in a good place.”

The former CBC Cork student completed his leaving cert in June and already has plans for the new season. “I’m going to go over to Spain at the start of next year and play three professional events out there, and hopefully I’ll get a few good results before the start of the season over here in April for the West of Ireland.”

Muskerry’s Stephen Riordan finished a few shots behind Cain and he too enjoyed the series final.  “As a whole the trip was incredible. I got to meet some fantastic people and I got to create memories and friendships that I will be holding onto for the rest of my life,” said Riordan.  “Al Ain itself was lovely. From the hotel to the golf course, the staff and everyone were so welcoming and we’re always looking to make it as best of an experience as possible for us. “The golf course was completely different to what we’re used to at home. At first sight, the course looked fairly open but in fact, it was quite the opposite with lakes and bunkers around the whole golf course you needed to be very accurate with every shot. Playing the Grand Final at first I was fairly nervous but just like every other tournament once you hit that first tee shot the nerves just settle down and I just tried to take it one shot at a time.  But the main difference was how professionally everything was and how well run the competition as a whole was done.”

The Faldo Series has been running for over 25 years and is recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls.  Competitors from ages 12 to 21 have the opportunity to play WAGR counting events while testing themselves against the very best juniors around the world.

Over 45,000 golfers have participated in the event since it started in 1996, with 5,000 golfers taking part in 2022.  Clinics are also a central part of the series, with Nick Faldo holding several clinics including one at the end-of-season Grand Final.  Luttrellstown Castle was the venue for the 2022 Irish qualifier, one of sixteen separate events held in eleven different countries.

The final was held at the prestigious Al Ain resort was again the venue for the grand final.  The course hosts the UAE amateur championship and a prestigious international Pro-Am, as well as hosting the Mena Tour Championship on several occasions.  The 18-hole championship course offers a picturesque and challenging experience for all golfers, and the back nine has recently been floodlighted to allow play in the evenings.