x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE given harsh lesson on Yas Links by Scotland amateur side

Khalid Yousuf and Abdulla Al Musharrekh were among the UAE team whitewashed by the visitors in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

UAE coach Chris Vallender and Khalid Yousuf.
UAE coach Chris Vallender and Khalid Yousuf.

Abu Dhabi // Chris Vallender, coach of the UAE golf team, hopes talk of one of his players turning professional has been shelved in the wake of their "thrashing" by Scotland at the weekend.

In the inaugural Falcon Trophy held at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, a Scotland amateur team won all nine of the singles and fourballs matches in what was described as a Test Match between the two countries.

Vallender felt the one-sided nature of the contest underlined why the likes of Abdulla Al Musharrekh, who has designs on joining the Asian professional circuit, will not be making the transition from amateur to professional in the near future.

"I think this result showed our guys just how far behind the amateur players, never mind the pros, from the leading countries," Vallender said.

"The Scots play and practice full time, despite being amateur. They are going on an eight-week training camp to South Africa next year, for example, and that is why they are so much better prepared and have more confidence."

Sohail Al Marzuki, Faris Al Mazrui, Al Musharrekh, Saif Thabet, Hassan Al Musharrekh and Khalid Yousuf made up the team.

"Our guys work all week and when they get home might not want to go out and practice," Vallender said. "They are trying to mould a career for themselves, so golf is going to come second. That won't change unless we can offer them the same money and backing that they can earn with their jobs.

"A lot of people expect our guys to turn pro, but it's not as easy as that. At the moment we are a pretty good amateur team, but that's it. We need to change our entire structure and that's going to take time because we don't have enough players right now."

The Scottish Elite Amateur squad are midway through a four-week stay at Yas for some warm winter training

"It seems like a thrashing, and it probably is when you look at the scores, but our guys played well," Vallender said. "It's just that the Scottish boys played superbly well," Vallender said.

"Our first pairing [Abdulla Al Musharrekh and Al Mazrui] lost 7&6 but they were only one-over. The difference is that the Scottish boys were eight-under. That, in fact, is a big difference."

That first match set the tone for the day.

Scotland's Conor O'Neill and Brian Soutar won with six holes to spare against Abdulla Al Musharrekh and Al Mazrui.

"The UAE guys played solid but we just had a great day coming in on different holes in the morning fourballs and then we played even better in the afternoon singles," said Soutar. "We've made some good friends and it has been a great initiative to be involved in."

Al Mazrui said difference between the two sides was that the UAE players did not convert their chances.

"I hit the ball well, but my putting let me down," Al Mazrui said. "We didn't drop too many shots but we didn't take our birdie opportunities.

"It was a privilege to see how Scotland play and train. We are a much younger team without the heritage of Scottish golf and we hope that we will continue to learn from them."

The afternoon singles illustrated the gulf between the two sides, with the visitors winning five of the singles matches by four holes or more.

The plan is for the UAE to visit Scotland next year for a return match, with St Andrews pencilled in as a possible venue.

"The Falcon Cup has been a great experience for us all, both the UAE as a developing golf nation and the Scottish squad who had to play well to win," Ian Rae, the Scotland coach, said. "We look forward to welcoming UAE team in Scotland next year."

 

ncameron@thenational.ae