Muscat: A jubilant Saudi team insisted the experience of playing on the MENA Tour propelled them to an historic victory at the 36th Arab Golf Championship that concluded at Ghala Golf Club on Saturday.
Spearheaded by Khaled Attieh and Othman Al Mulla, the Saudi team tallied an impressive gross 887, upstaging defending champions Morocco (903) en route to their maiden win in the championship with Qatar finishing third on a gross 916.
Rising star Attieh closed with the tournament’s low score of a three-under 69 after carding three straight 74s to reach three-over 291 for the championship, edging past his teammate Al Mulla by three shots in an exciting duel for the individual gold medal.
Sponsored by Golf Citizen, the flagship event of the Arab Golf Federation saw 11 teams compete for honours in the team and individual categories at the scenic Ghala Golf Club, also a popular stop on the MENA Golf Tour.
“We are delighted to win our first team title and Khalid’s gold. It is a double delight for us. I think the experience of playing alongside professional golfers from all over the world on the MENA Golf Tour lit up the spark for this pleasing victory,” Al Mulla, who was adjudged the best amateur from the region at this season’s MENA Golf Tour, said.
“The tour is just awesome and provides an incredible opportunity to improve our game. With world ranking points on offer, the Mena Golf Tour members from the Arab world can hope to target qualification to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as a more realistic goal.
“On behalf of all Arab golfers, I would like to sincerely thank Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, for his vision in creating the tour and all the support and encouragement he gives to each and every one of us,” said Al Mulla, whose 2016 season on the MENA Golf Tour was highlighted by six victories in the region’s amateur division.
Gold medal winner Attieh said his participation in the Ghala Open, the penultimate MENA Tour event last month, at the same venue helped him get accustomed to the course.
“Finishing in red figures (one under) in that event certainly added to my confidence and helped me a lot in navigating the course. I would also like to thank my coach, Brett Saunders, who especially flew in from Australia. It was great to achieve this result with him around,” the 21-year-old, who divides his time between Dubai and the U.S., said
Mohammed Al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas, presented the awards in the presence of Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, president of the Arab Golf Federation, and Mundhir Al Barwani, the head of Oman Golf Committee.
Bahrain will host the next edition in 2017. The country’s officials received the flag from the OGC in the presence of Arab golf dignitaries and other Omani sports officials.
Results (Team): 1. Saudi Arabia (887), 2. Morocco (903), 3. Qatar (916), 4. Tunisia (924), 5. Bahrain (931), 6. Egypt (935), 7. UAE (937), 8. Lebanon (956), 9. Oman (985), 10. Palestine (986), 11. Libya (989).
Individual (top five): 1. Khalid Attieh (Saudi Arabia) - 291, 2. Othman Al Mulla (Saudi Arabia) - 294, 3. Ali Al Shahrani (Qatar) - 304, 4. Mehdi Ben Halima (Tunisia) - 304, 5. Saud al Sharif (Saudi Arabia) – 305).