By Armstrong Vas
DOHA (Qatar): Ali Al Shahrani became only the second Qatari to claim the Qatar Open in tournament’s 35-year history at the Doha Golf Club on February 27 following a six-stroke win over his rivals.
Abdullah Al Bouanain was the first Qatari to win the championship on sand in the inaugural edition held 35 years ago.
Al Shahrani warded off a tough challenge from his Qatari team-mate Saleh Al Kaabi and South African Ruan Jordaan, both who finished with an identical score of 9-over par.
The tournament was organized by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) in association with Qatar Olympic Committee.
As Qatar Open champion, Al Shahrani automatically qualifies for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which will be held from March 11 to 14 at the Education City Golf course.
He will get a chance to compete in the European tour event along with compatriot Jaham Al Kuwari, who enters the next month’s tournament with a wild card.
“I am dedicating my win to the QGA and as they’ve were always a source of encouragement and support. I’m very happy that I have become the first Qatari to win the championship, after a gap of 35 years,” said Al Shahrani, who finished with a gross score of 219 3-over par in the three rounds.
“All the credit goes to my coaches at QGA and Qatar Golf Academy like Hassan, Anwar Ali and Mike Elliot for helping to improve my game,” said Al Shahrani, who was initiated to the game by his father.
“It wasn’t an easy competition. We played in very tough windy conditions. In the final round, I was under a lot of pressure from Saleh (Al Kaabi), but thankfully I managed to win the title,” he added.
QGA Secretary General Mr Fahad Al Naimi, who handed over the trophy to Al Shahrani complimented the winning effort.
“Abdullah Al Bouanain won the inaugural edition in 1983, but that was on a sand course. After 35 years, we’ve another Qatari winning the tournament. It’s a superb achievement. We’re proud of him. Ali is among our top players. I hope he will keep growing and will do well for the country,” said Mr Fahad.