36th Arab Golf Championship begins today in Oman
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With participants from 12 countries having arrived and the Oman Golf Committee (OGC) declaring that all preparations have been completed, the 36th Arab Golf Championship is set to begin with the official opening ceremony at the Ghala Golf Club on Tuesday.
H E Sheikh Saad al Saadi, the Minister of Sports Affairs, will inaugurate the tournament at 4pm.
It is the first time that Oman is hosting the prestigious amateur tournament for the Arab golfers and the local officials are delighted about it.
In his remarks to Muscat Daily on the eve of the opening ceremony, Ahmed al Jhdhamy, the OGC vice-chairman, said, “We are proud to host the event that has a long history.
“All preparations for the smooth conduct of the championship have been completed. We look forward to exciting four days of action from Wednesday to Saturday.”
Besides hosts Oman, the other nations that are taking part are UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon. Iraq will be represented in only individual category while Kuwait is not taking part.
Mundhir al Barwani, the OGC chairman, told Muscat Daily, “We have been keen to host the Arab Golf Championship for a long time. With the blessings of the Ministry of Sports Affairs, we are now all ready for the start.”
“We expect a good show from our national team as they would be playing at home,” said the OGC chief.
Oman's challenge will be led by the 16 year old Fahad al Kitani, who won the NBO Amateur Open title on Friday held on the sidelines of the NBO Grand Classic Final, the season-ending European Challenge Tour.
Seasoned campaigner Azaan al Rumhy will hope to capitalise on his home course after failing to impress in recent tournaments.
Experienced Ali Hameed al Saleh, who finished runner-up at the NBO Amateur Open, pulled out of the event due to an injury. His place will be taken by Ahmed al Balushi, who had won the opening round of qualifiers of the NBO Amateur event at the flood-lit Ras Al Hamra golf course.
Another youngster Rashad al Harthy will complete the line-up for the hosts at the tournament which has been dominated by Morocco golfers.
Azaan said, “I am hopeful that I could come up with good results at the Ghala Golf Club course, where I grew up playing As the host nation, we hope to bring good results at the meet.”
Morocco aims for fifth crown
Moroccan golfers has been on top at the event in recent times leading the nation to four straight titles including last year's crown at the El Kantaoui golf course in the Tunisian city of Sousse.
The other likely contenders are Egypt and former champions Bahrain.
Morocco had won the four-day four players three-to-count tournament last year in style, posting a total of 885 to win by a massive 43 strokes from Egypt. Bahrain had finished third while Oman was represented by only one player – Yousef al Balushi - at the event.
Yassine Touhami of Morocco will hope to defend his title and is expected to face tough fight from his teammate Ayoub Lguirati, Qatar’s Saleh Ali al Kaabi and Khaled Youssef of UAE.