By Mai Akkad
The WAGR-2013 Qatar Open Amateurs Championship kicked off today at the Doha Golf Club, where, among others, four Qatari players will compete to win an opportunity to play with the pros during the upcoming Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The players’ coach, former pro golfer Mike Elliot, said he believes the men have a real shot.
“They are all getting better and better and the more competitions they play over the years, the better and more relaxed they will become when they play golf,” the American, a winner of 65 professional tournaments, told Doha News.
But he added that their commitment to day jobs and studies is interfering with their golf career.
Saleh Al-Kaabi and Ali Al-Bishi, both 18 years old, are enrolled at Qatar University. Al-Kaabi studies sports science, while Al-Bishi, who played in the Master’s last year, is pursuing business.
His brother, 25-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Bishi, is a police officer in Lekhwiya and the fourth player, 30-year-old Ghanim Al-Kuwari, runs his own business.
Apart from the overall winner, the top two top-scoring Qatari players at the amateur championship, which ends on Saturday, will qualify to play in the Masters, which runs from Jan. 23 to 26.
That tournament will include world number four Justin Rose of England and American world number nine Jason Dufner.
Today, the Qatari players – and all others who golfed in the afternoon – scored over par, with Elliot citing the afternoon’s windy conditions as the reason for the poor performance.
When asked about his expectations of the Qatari players who will compete in the Masters, Elliot said:
“They have the ability to play just as good as any of the pros that are playing. It is just a matter of whether their nerves will hold up to it when the tournament comes, because playing that type of golf, you have to be playing at this level for years.”
Credit: Photo of Coach Elliot and Ali Al-Bishi by Mai Akkad