x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE golf team shapes up for Nomura cup date

Chris Vallender wants his junior golfers to think before they swing as the provisional team that will represent the UAE in the Nomura Cup at Fiji is named.

Sohail al Marzouqi, a six-handicapper, needs to shoot a 74 to make the team that will represent the UAE at the Nomura Cup. Delores Johnson / The National
Sohail al Marzouqi, a six-handicapper, needs to shoot a 74 to make the team that will represent the UAE at the Nomura Cup. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // Chris Vallender, the national coach of the Emirates Golf Federation, saw plenty to please him as his team for the Nomura Cup was all but completed at Yas Links yesterday.

Abudulla al Musharrekh's excellent one-over round of 73 yesterday gave him a total score of 233, which was enough to see him finish top of the pile, six shots ahead of younger brother Ahmed, who got around in 79 on day three of qualifying for the UAE Amateur Team.

As expected, Khalid Yousuf will also be on the plane to Fiji in August after an 82 yesterday made-up for losing four balls at the long 18th on Friday. That gave him an overall score of 243.

The ever-improving Saif Thabet, whose scoring went 87, 82 and 79 to come in at 248, should be good enough to win the final place in the national team.

"Hopefully, I will be in the team and that would be a great honour for me," Thabet said. "I believe the course in Fiji is fantastic.

"I grew up with the all the guys in golf but lost touch when I left the sport, so to come back and be a new face in the team is good for us all."

However, 18-year-old Sohail al Marzouqi could still snare the final spot on his final round today. He would need to shoot a 74, which would be asking a lot from a six-handicapper who has an 88 and 85 so far.

"Sohail would have to shoot a 75 to equal me and, to be honest, I wouldn't mind that because we would get to go against each other in a play-off for another 18 holes," Thabet said.

"I said to Chris [Vallender] the other day on the first tee that we were so lucky to play on such an amazing course. Three days on Yas Links; what more could you want?"

Vallender played with every player over the three days which gave him a perfect view of what shape their respective games are in.

All he wants now from his boys is a bit more practice with the putter, some fine tuning around the greens and more attention given to the mental side of the game.

"Technically, there is not a lot wrong with the guys," Vallender said. "The short game is lacking and it's very difficult to get them to work on that because it's the most boring part of practice. So it's important to create little games for them to keep up the interest.

"The main reason we haven't played to our potential is that the guys don't think their way around the golf course enough. No matter how much you tell them how to deal with certain situations, they will still stand up on a par five with their driver and rocket it as far as they can.

"And when they are 10 foot in the big scrub where they can't find their ball, they wonder why. Or they will find themselves on a fairway and bang a three wood to 40 yards, which they actually don't like. They actually would be much better getting the ball to 90 yards from the hole.

"This happens in general with young golfers. They have to learn that tour players don't work out the distances to the green, they work out the best distance for them, what side of the green is best to miss. Our guys, at the moment, don't take that into account.

"But there was some good golf played and we just need to change their mind-set when it comes to practising on their own. They need to take it seriously as that transfers itself to the course."

Of the rest of the players, Faris al Marzouqi followed two rounds of 90 with an 88 for 268 and Nabil Ismail's 90 took him to 269.

It was a good second day for 16-year-old Faisal al Marzouqi, who will finish with his brother today. He shot 90 thanks to a 42 on the back nine.