'A big future ahead' predicted for Sana Tufail, a 15-year-old pupil at British School Al Khubairat, ahead of event at Emirates Golf Club.
Abu Dhabi schoolgirl to compete against the best in Dubai Ladies Masters
DUBAI // Sana Tufail was given an early pointer as to just what to expect when she plays at this week's Dubai Ladies Masters, after she was sandwiched between Laura Davies and Melissa Reid at the range yesterday.
The 15-year-old Abu Dhabi schoolgirl will become the youngest player in the tournament's history when she tees up at The Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.
"I am thrilled and really looking forward to playing," said Tufail, who has lived in the capital since her parents moved from England when she was two.
"When I first received the invitation I was quite shocked, but then afterwards I thought I needed to prepare for it because I didn't want to be overawed by the experience."
Competing alongside the likes of Davies, the English great, Reid and Michelle Wie might be a daunting prospect for one so young, but she has enjoyed perfect preparation for the event.
In between homework from the British School Al Khubairat, she found time to win the Ladies Open at Yas Links, her home club, at the weekend, in an amateur women's course record of two-under-par 70.
Not that she is betraying any signs of nerves ahead of the weekend, anyway.
"She seems very relaxed," said Luke Cantello, a senior instructor at the Butch Harmon School for Golf in Dubai, who will act as her caddy this weekend.
"All the senior players are around but she is very level-headed - I wish I had been that level-headed when I was 15.
"She is very confident in what she does, she always wants to be positive, aggressive and hit good shots, so she has a really good attitude."
Tufail, who says she first picked up a club aged four and has been playing the game seriously for five years, plays off plus one, and has the lowest handicap of any girl under 18 in the Middle East.
She currently leads the Emirates Golf Federation's ladies and junior order of merit having won five out of six competitions to date.
"The strongest part of her game is her ball-striking," Cantello said. "She hits the ball really well. She is quite small for 15, so she is not the longest hitter, but she hits the ball very well each time.
"She hits a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. She has a lot of talent and I would say she has a big future ahead of her."
Tufail's appearance in the Dubai showpiece is another boon for the sports department at BSAK, where she has been for her whole school career.
"This is a staggering achievement, and we are absolutely delighted for Sana," said Paul Coackley, the principal at BSAK. "We will be following her progress avidly."