x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Vallender happy with progress despite UAE's 'slow start'

Hassan Musharrekh bags honour as 'best junior Arab golfer' with gold medal to take individual honours.

Hassan Al Musharrekh did not make it to the senior national team but won the junior gold medal in Morocco.
Hassan Al Musharrekh did not make it to the senior national team but won the junior gold medal in Morocco.

Chris Vallender blamed a slow start for denying the UAE team the chance of reaching their goal of winning the Arab Golf Championship in Morocco.

The four-member side of Ahmed and Abdulla Al Musharrekh, Khalid Yousuf and Faris Al Mazroui finished third, behind the hosts and Bahrain, at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Resort in Rabat.

"We went to Morocco to win, that was our aim," Vallender, the UAE coach, said. "We were slow to start on day one as the guys struggled on a long and difficult course, but they settled down and all the guys played some good stuff by the end. They got themselves on the podium and we've got to be content with that."

Starting the final day in fourth place, the UAE carded a combined score of 238 for a 72-hole total of 948 to make it on to the podium.That was made possible by a hole-in-one by Khalid Yousuf, a first in his career.

"This was good progress and there was plenty for me to enjoy," Vallender said. "The plan now is to sit down with the others guys at the Emirates Golf Federation, discuss where we are now, where we want to go, and how we are going to do that."

Hassan Al Musharrekh, at 18 the youngest of the UAE's well-known golfing brothers, recovered from not making the senior team at the start of the week to win the gold medal in the junior individual category.

He shot rounds of 67, 72 and 75 to finish the 54-hole championship on 214, five shots ahead of his nearest challenger, Ayoub Lguirati, of Morocco.

"I was really disappointed to lose a play-off with Faris to make the team itself, but I was really pleased with myself to win the gold medal," he said.

"I didn't get much time on the course beforehand, so to go out and shoot six-under on my first round was special."

He was three-over at the turn on the second day, but picked up four shots on the back nine.

"Winning a gold medal means he is the number one junior golfer in the Arab world and that's a great honour," Saeed Albudoor, the general manager of the Emirates Golf Federation, said.

Al Musharrekh's elder brother, Ahmed, finished fifth in the senior individual division with a 72-hole total of 307, six shots behind leader, Mohamed Belaroussia, of Morocco.

Dr Rabab Al Haj of the UAE placed eighth in the individual women's competition with rounds of 103, 109 and 101.

Hosts Morocco won the men's championship with a score of 896 ahead of runners-up Bahrain (930). Lebanon were fourth.

ncameron@thenational.ae