Saif Thabet books place at 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA as top Emirati amateur
Callum Shinkwin and Dominic Foos also secure berths at the European Tour Rolex Series event
Emirati amateur golfer Saif Thabet will make his debut at the 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA after booking his place at a qualifying event on Monday.
The qualifier for the Rolex Series tournament was held at Yas Links, with two rounds played on Sunday featuring 72 players and one round on Monday after the field had been reduced to 32 players after the cut.
Thabet, who was part of the UAE team which recently won the 2018 GCC Golf Championship in Oman, carded two-over par in both rounds on the opening day, including a birdie on the 18th hole to make the cut and secure qualification for the European Tour tournament.
Thabet will now get the chance to compete alongside the likes of two-time defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, world No 2 Brooks Koepka, and world No 3 Dustin Johnson.
“I can’t wait till next week and I get the chance to compete with some of the world’s top golfers at one of the world’s top golfing events,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good about it, my putting was hot this week, it’s obviously going to be tough out there, but I’m relishing the challenge.
"It’s all about knowing how to handle the pressure, and making sure that your mind doesn’t get cluttered with unnecessary thoughts. Next week will provide the ideal opportunity to test my ability to do this, and hopefully advance my career.”
Also securing his place in Abu Dhabi is overall qualifying winner Callum Shinkwin, after the Englishman recorded an overall score of 18-under-par, which included a nine-under score in the afternoon round of the first day.
Shinkwin is in his sixth year on the European Tour and will be competing in Abu Dhabi for a third time.
“It’s great to be back in Abu Dhabi and I’m thrilled to have got through the qualifier to be able to compete once more in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA," he said.
"I had not had much experience of Yas Links: it’s a challenging course, but also very beautiful, and it’s nice to be able to play in sunshine and warmth after weeks in the cold and rain of Europe.
"Now I’m looking forward to turning my attention to the Championship itself, one of the most popular tournaments on the circuit.”
The third and final player to book his place was Dominic Foos, the German's overall five-under-par enough to finish as the highest UAE resident.
Foos has lived in the UAE for the past four years, and is a professional on the Challenge Tour, becoming the tour's youngest ever winner when lifting his first trophy age 17.
“I did good on the first day, but the second day was windier and the pin positions were tougher," he said. "I’m very pleased to have got through, though, and I am really looking forward to competing in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
"I’ll be happy whatever the draw comes out with, but it would be great to play with Dustin Johnson, because he’s a cool dude.”
The 2019 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA takes place January 16-19 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club's National course.
Updated: January 8, 2019 05:57 PM