x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Musharrekh has a five-over-par 77 in Egyptian Open

The Emirati, the first national player to qualify for the tournament, trails Italy's Alessandro Tadini, the leader after the first round, by 12 shots.

Ahmed al Musharrekh still hopes to make the cut at the Egyptian Open despite shooting a head-scratching five-over-par 77 yesterday.

The Emirati, the first national player to qualify for the tournament, trails Italy's Alessandro Tadini, the leader after the first round, by 12 shots at the Mirage City Golf in Cairo.

Rory McIlroy, the world No 9, is also in the field and he shot two over par.

Al Musharrekh, who is playing in his first European Challenge Tour event, could have done better but a triple-bogey seven on the par 4 fourth undermined a fine start that saw him birdie the first hole and par the next two.

"I had my chances, but couldn't exploit them," al Musharrekh said. "I think a five-over-par score after that triple bogey is not all that bad. I may have lost the early initiative, but I will try my best to make the cut. It's a really nice course and if you can keep the ball in play, you can create a lot of birdie chances. The greens are great. I wish I could have rolled in some more putts."

Saeed Albudoor, the general manager of the Emirates Golf Federation, said: "Playing in this prestigious tournament is a great learning curve for Ahmed.

"Whatever the results, he will return home richer in experience, something which will go a long way in honing his competitive edge. It will be great if he could make the cut."

Meanwhile, a strong contingent of national golfers, led by Khalid Yousuf and Abdullah al Musharrekh, will be hoping to provide a new twist to the script when the Shaikh Rashid Trophy gets under way at Al Badia Golf Club today.

Since the inception of the 54-hole tournament in 1998, no Emirati has ever managed a podium finish, but they are determined to do well in a field that has attracted almost all of the UAE's top players.

Organised by the Emirates Golf Federation, the tournament moves to the Els Club tomorrow for the second round while the final round will be played at Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa on Saturday. The cut will be made after 36 holes with the top 30 and ties making it to the finale. "In the early days, playing in this tournament was more of a learning curve for UAE nationals, but things have changed with time. They are all accomplished golfers now," Albudoor said.

"They can fancy their chances especially Khalid and Abdullah, who both play off plus handicaps. In fact, Khalid is one of the three players in the field - the other two being Miki Mirza and Daniel Hendry - who has reduced his handicap down to plus three which is the best in the country.

"It would be tremendously exciting if they staged such a charge. But then it also might be too much to ask since the field is packed with a string of single-digit handicappers. All I know is that we in for a great contest ahead."

* Agency