MUSCAT: Sixteen-year-old Ahmed al Wahaibi held his nerve this weekend to book himself a dream place in the upcoming Asia Pacific Amateur Golf Championships alongside Azzan al Rumhy.
Jointly organised by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament, and the R&A the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship was created in 2009 to further develop amateur golf in the Asia Pacific region. The stellar 120-player field includes the top two male amateurs from each of the 46 Asia Pacific Golf Confederation member organisations. The winner of the Championship receives an invitation to compete in the Masters Tournament and The Open. In fact, the winner of this year’s Masters Tournament, Hideki Matsuyama, is himself a two-time winner of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship.
To decide which two players would be put forward to compete the Oman Golf Association (OGA) arranged a four-round qualifying series with two rounds played at Al Mouj Golf and two rounds at Ghala Golf Club. In a welcome return to competitive golf and with the opportunity to rub shoulders with the finest amateur golfers in Asia on offer many of Oman’s national team players, both from the senior and junior ranks, teed it up.
Ghala Golf Club member Al Wahaibi, who has represented the Sultanate at junior level on several occasions, got off to a dream start in round 1 with an impressive front 9 score of level par at Al Mouj Golf, however a more challenging inward 9 saw him finish the first round tied with Rashad al Harthy at 11 over par.
On the second day at Al Mouj, Al Wahaibi pulled away from the field slightly with a score of 9 over par to take a seven-stroke advantage at the halfway stage over Al Harthy with Azzan Al Rumhy a further stroke back.
With two rounds to play the chasing pack including Ayman al Busaidy, Hamood al Harthy, Mohamed al Numani, Al Munther al Hinai, Nasih al Barwani and Ali Hameed al Saleh all still stood a chance of qualifying if the leaders were to falter. However, on his home course Al Wahaibi produced two steady rounds of golf capped with a birdie on the final hole to finish in top spot two strokes ahead of Al Rumhy who closed with a fine 77. Rashad al Harthy finished in third place and gaining ground after a strong weekend at Ghala to finish in fourth place was Ayman al Busaidy.
After the final qualifying results were announced, Ahmed al Wahaibi said: “I am very excited to qualify to play in the Asia Pacific tournament, I have played in the GCC Championships and Pan Arab events before, but this will be my biggest tournament so far. I have been working really hard on my game recently and I am pleased to see that my results are improving. I will make sure that I continue to practice and thoroughly prepare for the event in November and look forward to doing my best against the top amateur golfers in Asia.”
Azzan al Rumhy said: “I am delighted to be participating once again in the AAC having missed last year’s event in Melbourne due to the pandemic. For me this is the best amateur tournament of the year playing with the best players in Asia and the Pacific region. I am particularly looking forward to this year’s championship as it will take place at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, a course I am very familiar with. I am also looking forward to having Ahmed with me, he has been playing great golf recently and is a fine representative from our developing youth national team. This event will help Ahmed to build great tournament experience playing with the best amateurs in the region which will also help to strengthen our national team”.
Mundhir al Barwani, OGA Chairman said: “We congratulate all of the players who competed in this qualifying series and are delighted to be able to send Ahmed and Azzan to represent Oman in the Asia Pacific Amateur Championships. We greatly appreciate the support that Al Mouj Golf and Ghala Golf Club have given us to hold our qualifying series and we also extend our gratitude to His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth and our sponsors and partners including Sohar Aluminium for their ongoing support.”
Jamie Wood, OGA Technical Director, added: “Congratulations to both Ahmed and Azzan for qualifying for the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship. It was great to see the competition and camaraderie between the players over the last two weekends and also to see some of our younger players take the next step in their development. We wish Ahmed and Azzan all the best and we look forward to more events such as these inspiring the next generation of Omani golfers.”