Qatar’s al-Kaabi takes sole lead after opening round

Qatar’s Saleh Ali al-Kaabi shot a two-under 70 to take lead on the opening day of the 36th Qatar Open Golf Amateur Championship, which teed off at the Doha Golf Club (DGC), yesterday. 

The Qatari golfer, who took a silver medal at the Arab Golf Championship in Cairo last month, made the best of favourable conditions to secure a one-shot lead over Saudi Arabia’s Saud al-Sharif (71).

Another Saudi Arabian golfer Faisal al-Salhab – winner of the individual title in Cairo – finished the opening day on third position after carding 72.  

Al-Kaabi, who made five birdies and three bogeys, was content with his performance and hoped to continue his form in the remaining rounds. “It’s a very good start for me and I am happy with a two-under-par in the first round,” the 27-year-old told reporters yesterday. “I am looking to repeat my performance in the second round to go into the final round with a good position,” he said.

“My recent participation in international events including the Arab Championship has given me a lot of experience and confidence. I hope I will be able to win this competition which I love but I have to show a consistent performance in the next rounds,” he added. Al-Kaabi added the golfers were able to give their best due to fantastic conditions on the opening day. “I hope we will get the same conditions during the remaining rounds,” he said.     

Meanwhile, defending champion Ali al-Shahrani finished the opening day in joint fourth position after a score of two-over 74. The Qatari golfer was joined by six other golfers. 

Al-Shahrani, who made four birdies and four bogeys, said cold weather early morning affected his performance but he hoped to bounce back in the remaining rounds. “It’s just the first round and I am looking forward to a fight back to defend my title. The second round (today) is important and I am hoping for a better performance,” said al-Shahrani, who became the first Qatari golfer in 35 years to win the Qatar Open, last year. “I hope a Qatari golfer wins this tournament for a second time in a row,” he added. 

Al-Shahrani also commended the organisers for holding the event despite facing the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic. “I would like to salute the federation officials for their commitment in holding the tournament and providing the golfers with necessary health atmosphere. The tournament has great value for us and we always strive to compete in this event,” he said. 

As many as 118 golfers are taking part in the event which is considered as one of the oldest sports events in the country.  The winner of the tournament qualifies to play in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters which is a part of the European Tour.

Leading scores 

70: Saleh Ali al-Kaabi; 71: Saud al-Sharif; 72: Faisal al-Salhab; 74: Ali al-Shahrani, Mike Elliott, Magnus Stjarnesund, Mikkel Mathiesen, Azzan al-Rumhu, Harvey Byers, Jamie Gregory; 75: Jeff Mathews

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