x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Hole in one for Yousuf as UAE finish third in Morocco

The Emirati knew the reaction of the crowd at the ninth hole at the Arab Golf Championship 'could only mean one thing'.

Khalid Yousuf, seen here in action in May, helped the Emirates team finish third in Morocco at the Arab Golf Championship.
Khalid Yousuf, seen here in action in May, helped the Emirates team finish third in Morocco at the Arab Golf Championship.

Khalid Yousuf, the No 1-ranked UAE golfer, recorded his first hole in one as he led a UAE charge to third place at the Arab Golf Championship.

The 21-year-old student from Dubai, who plays out of the Emirates Golf Club, achieved every player's dream of an ace on the first day of the tournament, held in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, which finished last night.

At the ninth hole of the Royal Golf Dar es Salaam, a difficult par 3, Yousuf sent his ball 190 yards over water to an island green and the ball rolled in the middle of the cup.

"I knew I hit the ball pretty flush from the tee but I didn't think it was that good," Yousuf said. "I was hitting into a wind and the pin was near the back of the green, so it wasn't an easy hole to play that day."

The reaction of the crowd was his first indication of where his ball had gone.

"I couldn't see where the ball landed but then everyone standing around the green went wild, cheering and clapping, and I knew that could only mean one thing," Yousuf said.

"It was a bit surreal as I walked up to the hole to get my ball. I couldn't really believe it. It took me a couple of holes that day for it to sink in."

Thirty minutes later, Saeed Saaler of Egypt also bagged a hole in one at the same hole.

Yousuf, who has no aspirations to turn professional, became the first Emirati to tee off at a world-class event when, as an 18 year old in 2008, he played in the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club while he was the UAE national champion.

However, despite playing in the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, too, this was his first ace.

"I had gone close before," he said.

"I had balls hit the pin and stay up but this was my first hole in one and it's something we all want to do. I fancy getting a few more now.

"The funny thing is that every time I played that hole for the rest of the tournament, I was actually a bit disappointed when I didn't get another score of one on my card."

Chris Vallender, the UAE coach, was delighted for Yousuf, with whom he has worked for almost four years.

He said: "Every golfer, no matter what level they play at, wants a hole in one on their CV.

"Yousuf played well over the three days, as did all the guys. It was another good performance by the UAE team."

The 31st Arab Golf Championship, a 54-hole stroke event, was won by hosts Morocco, with Bahrain second and the UAE third.

Members of the UAE team, in addition to Yousuf, were the brothers Ahmed and Abdulla Al Musharrekh and Faris Al Mazrui.

Another Al Musharrekh brother, Hassan, won the junior event.

Dr Rabab Al Haj finished eighth in individual women's competition.



Follow The National Sport on @SprtNationalUAE & Neil Cameron on @NeilCameron5