x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE duo fail to make a splash in Singapore

Rain hampers Yousuf and Al Musharrekh, but tournament is praised as 'one of the best organised events'.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is two shots off the lead at the Asian Amateur Championship.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is two shots off the lead at the Asian Amateur Championship.

The UAE's Khalid Yousuf and Ahmed Al Musharrekh struggled in the rain yesterday at the Asian Amateur Golf Championships in Singapore.

Yousuf, 21, was out in the worst of the weather, which delayed play for an hour at the Singapore Island Golf Club, and came in at 79, seven-over-par, and that means a sub-70 score today is needed if he is to make the cut.

Al Musharrekh, 20, has been in fantastic form for the past few months and his five bogeys and two birdies got him home at three-over 75. A later tee-time, when the weather had calmed down, helped him get around in a decent score.

Chris Vallender, the UAE coach, has been keen for his players to experience competing in different conditions and the early morning electric storms were not something they have ever had to cope with in the UAE. However, while the players were soaked, their spirits were not dampened.

"The tournament is one of the best organised events I have ever played in," Yousuf said.

"The course isn't long but it plays long due to the dampness and elevation of the tees and greens. I hit the ball well, but didn't score that great because I didn't hit enough fairways and that is the key on this course."

Al Musharrekh said: "The course is really hilly and you have to be able to hit draws and fades on almost every hole. If you don't do that, then you won't come in with a good score.

"My game was pretty good and I was on even par when I made some silly mistakes coming down the back nine. I'll try my best to get a low round to make sure I am inside the cut as comfortably as I can."

The 72-hole stroke play event boasts 120 players from 35 countries of the Asian Pacific Golf Confederation.

The winner will gain automatic entry into the Masters at Augusta next year, and is also allowed into a British Open qualifying event.

Lee Soo-min is in first place after round one, finishing the day with a score of 65, seven-under par. The 17-year-old South Korean carded a fantastic round that included six birdies and an eagle at the ninth to take him to the top of the leader board after 18 holes.

Hideki Matsuyama, the defending champion from Japan, is two shots farther back.

Vallender was proud of the way his two players dealt with the pressure and difficult conditions.

"Khalid actually played really well in some seriously wet weather and I feel sorry for him that his score wasn't what he wanted," he said.

"He's worked really hard on his game over the last couple of days in practice, but went on a bit of a bogey run over the first four holes on the back nine. That spoiled things for him a bit.

"Ahmed did better in the afternoon. He is playing with a lot more maturity and confidence these days regarding his course decisions. I'm sure he will be contending for the podium spots in the near future.

"The boys have conducted themselves brilliantly and have made many new friends and admirers among the players and officials. The UAE can be proud of these guys."