Oman golf: Al Kitani, Ali Hameed to represent Oman in the King Hamad Trophy

Sports Saturday 05/November/2016 18:32 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman golf: Al Kitani, Ali Hameed to represent Oman in the King Hamad Trophy

Muscat: While the European Challenge Tour’s top 46 players were battling it out at Almouj Golf in the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, trying to secure a card to play on next season’s elite European Tour, another event, potentially more significant for golf in Oman, was running alongside it.
A key driver in NBO’s sponsorship of Challenge Tour’s prestigious season-ending event is a desire to grow the sport of golf in Oman at grassroots level and the first steps towards began last year when an amateur tournament was organised at last year’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final with six local players competing on the Almouj Golf Course.
But in a clear sign that the game is growing in profile in the Sultanate, a hugely encouraging 42 players turned out to compete in this year’s NBO Amateur Strokeplay Championship at Ras Al Hamra Golf Club on Thursday, with the top 12 winning through to the NBO Oman Amateur Final 2016, which took place on Friday at Almouj Golf and was won by Fahad Al Kitani.
The 16-year-old shot an impressive gross 76 over the championship layout, to give him a two-round total of 159.
Ali Hameed Al Saleh finished second with 162 while Oman’s most well-known amateur, Azzan Al Ruhmy took third place on 163.
The top two finishers will now represent Oman in the King Hamad Trophy in Bahrain from November 24 to 26.
“I’m very happy, it was really tough playing on the same course that the Challenge Tour players were playing on, we really had to put full focus into our game,” Kitani, who has set his sights on becoming a professional one day, said.
“I’m looking forward to competing in the King Hamad Trophy now.”
Azzan’s father Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy, who also played in the final at Almouj and was the Chief Guest of the NBO Golf Classic Grand Final, was encouraged by the growth of the amateur event.
“Last year they did this and was very good but it was more selective, they picked the players to play,” he said. “This time they encouraged the rest of us! There was a qualifying round so there was a lot of excitement around the local players. Hopefully next year we can do even better.”
David Williams, the Chairman of the European Tour, who was at Almouj Golf to watch the amateurs and professionals in action, was impressed with the quality of golf played by the local competitors.
“It was tremendous,” he said. “I stood on the first and watched all four groups tee off and was really impressed by how well they hit the ball, including His Excellency, who smashed it down the fairway.
“There was a tremendous age range among the competitors as well. There are only four golf courses in Oman and golf is probably one of the last sports to catch on here but it is definitely growing and that was evident by the number players who took part in this year’s amateur tournament.”