x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Al Musharrekh leads confident squad

The UAE's brightest hope of producing a golfer good enough to join the professional ranks believes the wake-up call he received in Egypt last week will benefit him enormously in terms of fulfilling his long-term career ambition.

Ahmed al Musharrekh missed the cut in the Egyptian Open in Cairo. It was the first professional event for which he has qualified.
Ahmed al Musharrekh missed the cut in the Egyptian Open in Cairo. It was the first professional event for which he has qualified.

Ahmed al Musharrekh, the UAE's brightest hope of producing a golfer good enough to join the professional ranks, believes the wake-up call he received in Egypt last week will benefit him enormously in terms of fulfilling his long-term career ambition.

Al Musharrekh, 19, whose elder brother Abdullah, 22, and younger sibling Hassan, 17, have also flirted with the idea of turning professional, leads a confident Emirati team into battle today in the Eisenhower Trophy which is taking place in Buenos Aires.

A missed cut in the Egyptian Open - the first professional event for which he has qualified - came as a painful lesson to the young prospect who admitted he needs to work much harder before he can survive at that Challenge Tour level.

"It was an experience which I am sure will benefit me in the future," al Musharrekh said.

"I believe I will be a stronger character after playing in that tournament and I think I will be better equipped for the Eisenhower because of that experience."

The biennial Eisenhower competition, which was first played in 1958 when Australia took the honours, is for the right to be called world amateur team champions.

The UAE, who finished 50th out of 72 nations behind the winners Scotland in Adelaide last time around, are confident of making a significant climb up the global ladder. A target of a top 30 finish is attainable, said to al Musharrekh, who accompanied brother Abdullah and Khalid Yousuf on the flight to Argentina.

Abdullah, who felt Ahmed put too much pressure on himself in Cairo, is looking forward to making his third appearance for his country in this event.

"It is a top tournament for the best amateurs from all over the world and many of them make it their last tournament before turning pro," he said.

"It is like the Olympics of golf and it will be a pleasure to be involved at such a high level."

Yousuf is the UAE's most experienced Eisenhower campaigner, having led the team in the previous three tournaments and he is not ruling out a top 20 finish.

"If I play well and Ahmed plays well and Abdullah helps out then we can get there," he said, mindful that similar bullish noises were made before the recent Arab championships in Tunisia when the UAE fell well below expectations.

Saeed Albudoor,the general manager of the Emirates Golf Federation, kept things in perspective.

"In Argentina our strategy is different from events like the Arab championships," he said.

"We always set out with the aim of winning events in our region but participation is the main thing here and improving the status of the UAE on the world stage.

"We finished 50th last time and we are looking seriously at a top 30 finish this time. The aim in the next 10 years is to get into the top 15 but we appreciate that won't be easy because the standard is so high."

wjohnson@thenational.ae