x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE golfers are No 1 in the GCC

Ahmed Al Musharrekh wins individual award as the country's team wins the GCC Golf Championship.

UAE have solidified their claim to be the No 1 Gulf country team.
UAE have solidified their claim to be the No 1 Gulf country team.

DUBAI // The country's golfers solidified their credentials as the No 1 team in the Arab world yesterday with a convincing victory in the GCC Golf Championship.

And Ahmed Al Musharrekh held his nerve to retain his individual title in the tournament, which was held at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.

The Emirati team, which included Khalid Yousuf, Saeed Malik and Sohail Al Marzouqi alongside Al Musharrekh, shot a third-day gross of 229 to finish with a 676 total. They added the GCC victory to the team and individual gold medals they won at the recent Arab Games in Doha.

"This is a certainly a new start for us, especially after the Arab Games," Al Musharrekh said. "We've shown that we can compete at events like this and that we have many more for the future."

The UAE started the final day 17 shots ahead of Bahrain and finished 17 ahead of Qatar while Bahrain, who had won every tournament since its inception 16 years ago, slipped a further stroke behind and finished third.

Al Musharrekh, who had a seven shot advantage over teammate Yousuf, shot a 77 yesterday for a three-day total of 218 to clinch the individual prize by six strokes from Bahrain's Nasser Yacoub Saleh, who had a third round score of 74. Yousuf finished third at 225.

"It's not what I wanted today, but the first two days helped me a lot," Al Musharrekh said. "The fact that I was one-under and I had a huge gap, that worked for me.

"Because I had a big lead, I tried to get a bit cute. I said, 'OK let me try things I wouldn't really try in a big tournament'. So I applied that and it didn't really work because it was new for me.

"But it was really good. I am really happy. This is the second time in a row I have won this. As a team, this is our first time. So that makes it even more special. I am very happy with the results."

Chris Vallender, the UAE coach, was pleased with the efforts of his team and said: "With a 17 shot lead, it is a difficult situation because it is not enough in a team event but still a lot of strokes.

"So to get the players to come out and play the correct type of golf can be challenging. If they lose a few shots, they are not too worried about it and there could be a lot of pressure towards the end.

"So the guys did well. They did what they had to do."

Sheikh Fahim bin Sultan Qasimi, the chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, described it as "a fantastic victory."

"The boys have been working hard for a long time and the victory clearly reflects on the rising standards of the game in the UAE. I am really proud of their achievements," he said.

"Every member of the team played a role, especially Ahmed who did really well to add the individual GCC championship to his Arab Games gold medal."