On February 20 – 23, 2017 the Kingdom of Bahrain hosted the 21st GCC Men’s Golf Championship and the 3rd GCC Ladies Championship at the Royal Golf Club. With all six GCC countries taking part in the Men’s Championship and four teams competing in the Ladies Championship, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Golf Teams claimed three Gold Medals and two Bronze Medals. Successfully defending their title, the Ladies Team lead by Tara Al Marzooqi won the Gold by a large margin. UAE’s raising golf sensation Ahmed Skaik won the Gold Medal in the Men’s Individual Division while the Men’s Team won the Bronze Medal.
The Royal Golf Club is an 18-hole championship course that is designed by course architect and golf legend Colin Montgomerie. After receiving a large amount of rain a week ago in Riffa the course was in tough condition this week for the championship, but the cold temperatures and soggy fairways could not stop the UAE National Golf Teams.
With back-to-back wins for the Ladies Team at the GCC Golf Championships, the UAE have cemented their place in Ladies Golf within the GCC. This year’s performance was particularly superior after winning the Gold Medal by 19 strokes. Leading the charge for the ladies and winning the Gold Medal in the Individual Category was Tara Al Marzooqi. Tara blew past the field during her final round as she fired an 82, 8 shots better than any other golfer. Together with her first two rounds of 92 – 89, for a championship total of 263, Tara secured the Gold by 9 shots. Kuwait won the Team Silver and Qatar the won the Team Bronze.
Tara had this to say after the championship, “Representing the UAE and winning these Gold Medals are a great honor. I am so proud of my teammates as we continue to develop in this game that we love. All of the hard work with my coaches is starting to pay off. I really enjoyed the weather this week because it was a change to what I’m used to in the UAE. I think that I stayed focus this week and didn’t let the bad shots affect my game. I stuck to my pre-shot routines and drove the ball well off the tees. The UAE and Emirates Golf Federation offer so many great opportunities that hopefully others will take advantage of. With more participation we can become competitive in tournaments outside the GCC”.
Also representing the Ladies Team and finishing in Third Place collecting the Bronze Medal in the Individual Category was Reema Al Heloo. Reema had rounds of 95 – 86 – 93 for a total of 274. Hamda Al Suwaidi completed the Ladies Team with rounds of 95 – 99 – 90 for a total of 284.
In the Men’s Division, Ahmed Skaik went wire-to-wire in the Individual Category as he took the lead after round one and never looked back. With rounds of 76 – 74 – 72 – 75 for a championship total of 297 (9-over-par), Skaik collected his first GCC Golf Championship Gold Medal of his young career. Skaik has been committed to his game over the past 6 months, as he is currently 5th on the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) Order of Merit leaderboard and just won Third Place at the 2017 UAE Presidents Cup.
Skaik had this to say about his performance, “It feels great to have my first individual victory and to have it at the GCC Golf Championship makes it even more special. The course played very tough this week but I feel like I didn’t rush things and played to my game. I was solid off the tees as I didn’t miss many fairways, but the key was my short game and making a lot of up and downs. Winning the GCC was a big goal for me and I’d also like to congratulate my teammates on winning the Team Bronze Medal for our country. Moving forward I will continue to play the EGF Order of Merit and discuss with my coaches my schedule for the next few months”.
Alongside Skaik, the UAE Men’s Team won the Bronze Medal in the Team Category. Rashid Hamood found his grove after the first round with scores of 83 – 77 – 77 – 78, for a total of 315, enough for 7th Place in the Individual Category. Team veteran Khalid Yousuf had an off championship with rounds of 88 – 83 – 77 – 79 for a total of 327, but was still able to give the team scores they needed in order to finish in the top three. Rounding out the team was young Mohammed Adel Al Hajeri. Playing in his first Senior Team event, Al Hajeri had rounds of 87 – 87 – 86 – 88 for a 348 total.
The Kingdom of Bahrain won the Team Gold while the Salman of Saudi Arabia won the Silver.
National Team Coach Greg Holmes had this to say about the teams’ performance. “I am so proud of our squads’ performance this week. This is proof that hard work pays off. It’s great to see the Ladies defend their title and the Men to receive the Bronze. Ahmed and Tara have been working hard and for them to win the Gold in their respected division will boost our program. With the dedication from the Emirates Golf Federation, the UAE will see much more youngsters involved in the National Junior Development Program where we can look forward to seeing more talent emerging in the future”.
The Ladies and Men’s National Teams will keep their games in shape by playing the EGF Order of Merit, UAE Club Events, and National Monthly Medals over the next few months.
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