In Dubai Desert Classic contention, amateur James Allan reaping the rewards of the Mena Tour

Amateur James Allan was mixing it with golfing royalty on Thursday, competing with the cream of the European Tour at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. In fact, at one stage he was tied for the lead. He spoke to the media after his first round.

Amateur James Allan was mixing it with golfing royalty on Thursday, competing with the cream of the European Tour at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. In fact, at one stage he was tied for the lead. He spoke to the media after his first round.

MENA TOUR GRADUATE

Allan won his place at the Desert Classic by clinching the 2015 Mena Tour Order of Merit amateur crown, with the developmental tour offering six spots in total in this week’s field. Allan, from Essex in England, is making his second appearance in the tournament, having missed the cut last year.

SECOND TIME LUCKY

Out early Thursday, Allan climbed to 5 under-par, but bogeys on 14 and 18 — the second after he found the greenside lake — meant he signed for a 3-under 69. Nevertheless, Allan finished the morning just three shots off leader Alex Noren, while he was only one stroke behind defending champion Rory McIlroy.

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ON MIXING IT WITH THE PROS

“It’s just a fantastic experience and I’m loving learning off the guys I’m playing with, asking them a few questions and enjoying the whole atmosphere,” Allan, 21, said. “I’m pleased to be in the position I am and just loving it, really. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and it feels fantastic to be here.”

ON TAKING THE MENA ROUTE

“It was thanks to the chairman of my club, Chelmsford Golf Club. He’s helped me all the way since I started. He has a house at Al Hamra [Ras Al Khaimah] and has very kindly let me stay there the past couple of winters so I can base myself out here. I came out to watch the Desert Classic in 2013 and saw the Mena Tour advertised and the privileges that come with it and that gave us the opportunity to come have a crack.”

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ON MENA PROGRESSING HIS GAME

“100 per cent. It massively helped my amateur golf last year, because after I dealt with all the pressures and expectation from there, I found it a lot easier to cope in the amateur ranks and that showed in my results. I had a few good results in there: lost in a play-off and challenged for a few events. That gave me confidence going into events knowing I could compete.”

ON THE POSITIVES FROM HIS MENA PLAY-OFF DEFEAT

“I wanted that so bad. But I learned a lot from that and I felt going into every event I wasn’t looking at the amateur side of things, I was trying to win it and that took my mind off the end goal. It gave me a big boost of confidence knowing I could win those and put myself into the position to win, and that’s what I took forward going into every single one. It didn’t necessarily happen at the time, but I still had the belief that I could do it.”

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