Ahmed Al Musharrekh believes fitness gained during military training will propel him to greater heights in his chosen profession as he tees up at the Dubai Creek Open next week.
The UAE’s only golf professional recently completed mandatory national service for all Emiratis aged between 18 and 30.
“I’m more focused, more disciplined and have a kind of quiet confidence about myself that I never had before,” he said. “I’m excited to be back and playing some serious golf to knock off the rust, if there is any. The swing feels good. The confidence is there as I have shot many rounds in the 60s and it’s just a question of getting more consistent.
“The goal is to eventually get into contention week in and week out and then, hopefully, start winning golf tournaments.”
Golf runs in Al Musharrekh’s family as his father, Mohammed, and both brothers – Abdulla and Hassan – have all represented the UAE in the regional circuit. But it is 25-year-old Ahmed who has decided to make a career out of golf.
Being the only professional in the Gulf region, Ahmed feels he needs to make a move sooner than later and win at least one tournament on the MENA Golf Tour if he is to realise his dream of putting UAE golf on the map and inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
“The (MENA) tour is getting bigger and better every year. The level of competition is becoming more intense, but I am confident I can embrace the challenges and opportunities with the right training and opportunities, with the right training and experience,” said Ahmed.
His moment in the spotlight could well come at the Dubai Creek Open to be played at his home course from September 5 to 7.
“It will be great to resume my golfing career on a course where I had my first golf lesson there as a six-year-old boy in 1994 as part of the Junior Development Programme by the UAE’s apex golf body,” said the Sharjah native.
“I hope I can live up to the expectations.”
Sana Tufail shot seven-under par through her final 36 holes on the last day of the English Women’s Amateur Open, as her magnificent charge helped her finish fourth in one of the most prestigious amateur tournaments for ladies in Europe.
The 19-year-old Abu Dhabi-based golfer made up for two indifferent rounds on the first two days of the championship at the internationally acclaimed and historical Bristol and Clifton Golf Club with rounds of four-under par 69 and three-under par 70 in the final two rounds.
An unexpected bogey on the 15th in the last round derailed an otherwise stellar effort to claim podium position as she finished on two-under par (75, 76, 69 and 70). She made a total of 19 birdies in the tournament, which boasted a strong field of 110 of the best ladies in Europe and further afield.
Tufail was five-under par after nine holes in her third round and the last-36 hole total of seven-under was the best last day performance in the field by some distance.
The tournament was won by England International Emily Price on seven-under par and with scores of 74, 67, 72 and 72. Georgia Price, who was leading after the third round, took the runner-up spot. She shot a course record 65 on day 2, but struggled to a 77 in her final round.
This was Tufail’s second top-10 finish in four international tournaments this summer, and the multiple time Emirates Golf Federation Order of Merit champion said: “I worked hard at Yas Links just before the tournament before leaving for England and was pleased to see my game come together just before going back to College Golf in America.
“I was disappointed to drop a few shots in the early rounds, but the course was very fiery and you had to adjust for at least 15-20 feet of release on the greens. It was a real test of golf out there, all credit to Emily in playing consistently over four rounds to win.”
Tufail, who is attached to Yas Links Golf Club in Abu Dhabi, was the EGF Ladies Order of Merit Champion for the three consecutive years and has won over 30 Ladies Open events in the UAE. She is currently on a university golf scholarship at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
The MENA Golf Tour will now have a minimum of three tournaments during its second visit to the kingdom next May as Banyan Golf Club and Mountain Creek have already agreed to continue their support after successfully hosting the tour events earlier this year.
“We feel proud and privileged to join hands with Pattana,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour.
“Their support augurs well for the growth of professional golf and further strengthens our resolve to create meaningful playing opportunities for our members to showcase their skills on a global basis.
“With an impressive portfolio of world-class courses, Thailand has already established its credentials as one of the most popular golf destinations in the world, and the addition of a new MENA Golf Tour event at Pattana will further realise the country’s huge tourism potential. The MENA Golf Tour events will provide a great opportunity for the Thai talent to gain valuable World Ranking Points.”
The Pattana management are equally upbeat about welcoming the MENA Golf Tour party to their course.
“We are very excited with our association with the MENA Tour, which, I am confident will further stimulate the growth of golf,” said Rujirapun Juangroongruangkit, vice president of Pattana Golf Club.
“It will be a great opportunity for us to showcase our championship course, which we are proud of. We look forward to welcoming MENA Golf Tour members and I am confident they will have a memorable experience playing on our course.
“We are motivated to make this one of the most popular events in Thailand and look forward to welcoming fans, players, sponsors and organisers alike to Pattana in May 2017.”
Located just 90 minutes from Bangkok, Pattana boasts a championship 27-hole golf course and 7,000 capacity stadium.
It was opened in 2004 by Somporn Juangroongruangkit in memory of her husband. The Pattana layout is highlighted by a mixture of well-placed trees, bunkers and exciting greens and tests every aspect of a golfer’s game.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the Middle East and North Africa region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
Multiple European Tour starts as well as full playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour are some of the added incentives for MENA Golf Tour members.