x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

UAE move closer to victory in GCC Golf Championships

The Emirates take a 17-shot lead into final day of the team event, in Dubai, while the boys team clinch a third-place finish.

DUBAI // The UAE junior team, of Faisal Al Marzouqi and the two debutants Ahmed Skaik and Abdulla Al Qubaisi, finished third in the GCC Golf Championships yesterday, while the men's team take a 17-stroke lead into the final round of their competition at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club today.

The UAE juniors finished 22 shots behind the winners, Saudi Arabia, who had a total net score of 290. Bahrain were second with a net of 304. Skaik and Al Qubaisi, products of the National Junior Programme, were playing their first tournament at this level and Chris Vallender, the UAE coach, was pleased with their performance.

"They have done very, very well," Vallender said. ""The other juniors will now see they have something to work towards and it is very good for the UAE."

Saeed Albudoor, the general manager of the Emirates Golf Federation, also believes the progress of these juniors will inspire others in their programme.

"The junior team's performance in the GCC Championship will be a good advertisement for the programme, which we started in 2010 with the aim of increasing popularity of the game among the young Emiratis," Albudoor said.

The UAE men's team of Ahmed Al Musharrekh, Khalid Yousuf, Saeed Malik and Sohail Al Marzouqi shot a net of 221 in difficult conditions yesterday to surge 17 shots ahead of Bahrain.

The two teams had an identical gross of 226 on the opening day. Qatar are a further four shots behind with a gross of 468.

Al Musharrekh looks set to defend his individual crown as well as he goes into the third and final day with a gross of 141 at the top of the leaderboard.

He is seven shots ahead of teammate Yousuf, while Bahrain's Nasser Yacoub Saleh is in third on 150.

"It was really windy today, very difficult for all the competitors," Vallender said. "Our guys played really well.

"Although 17 shots sounds like a lot, 17 is not a heck of a lot in a team competition. It is a good lead to have, but we still need to go out there and make sure we play at our best. So we cannot rest at all. We need to make sure we finish it off."