x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Afghani golfer's hope to meet Tiger Woods

The 20-year-old has travelled to Dubai and hopes to meet his hero.

Hashmatulla Sarwary, a golfer from Afghanistan, watches Tiger Woods play at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.
Hashmatulla Sarwary, a golfer from Afghanistan, watches Tiger Woods play at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

DUBAI // Hashmatullah Sawaree travelled to the UAE this week to ask his hero, Tiger Woods, for the one thing he needs most to continue playing golf in war-torn Afghanistan: a better course.

The 20-year-old, who has already won a national tournament and competed in India, China and Bangladesh, plays on a bombed-out expanse on the outskirts of Kabul. The rocky surface means that every new shot has to be teed up.

"I want to ask Tiger Woods to come to Afghanistan to see where we play," Mr Sawaree said. "I'd like him to see for himself where we play golf. I want to ask him if he can help us improve our course."

Mr Sawaree and Mohammed Afzal Abdul, the head coach at the Kabul Golf Club, have been in Dubai attending the Omega Dubai Desert Classic - the Gulf leg of the PGA European tour known as the "Desert Swing" - at Emirates Golf Club. He has been scheduled to meet Woods some time this week.

The Kabul Golf Club was not always in such a sad state. Mr Abdul remembers a time more than 30 years ago when the course was covered in grass.

However, it was transformed into a military base for Soviet troops during the 1979 invasion. After the Taliban took over, the clubhouse was destroyed by a bomb.

"After the Russians came, everything died," said Mr Abdul, gazing out over the lush grounds of the Dubai club. "One day, we'd like to have a course like this."

Mr Sawaree and his coach were invited to Dubai after organisers for the Omega tournament spotted them on a television broadcast in November 2009. "Afghanistan and golf don't tally up very well," said Mohammed Juma bu Amaim, the vice chairman and chief executive of Golf in Dubai, which is organising the tournament.

"But there are still people there who enjoy the sport, and one of them is this kid. Hopefully by bringing them here, it will reflect in a good way back home."

mcroucher@thenational.ae