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Salhab shoots career-best 68 to win SABB Golf Championship

Best Gross champion Faisal Salhab and Best Net champion Nick Palce with Khaled Abunayyan, David Dew, Tariq Javed and Bouchaib El Jadiani. (Photo by Noel A. Alipoyo)
RIYADH: Faisal Salhab is on a roll to claim his third win in four starts since his return from a self-imposed nine-month hiatus from golf.
Salhab, arguably the most talented among twentysomethings in the Saudi talent pool, declined to be selected for the national team due to his college studies, and yet his form suggested what might have been missed from the 21-year-old.
In a near-flawless display, Salhab shot a career-best four-under 68 to win the Best Gross title in the 12th annual SABB Golf Championship at Dirab Golf & Country Club on the outskirts of Riyadh.
“My game it’s working. The ball’s just going in. I’m playing really good. I’m handling it. I’m happy with my golf again. No pressure. I’m just enjoying it,” said Salhab of his prodigious performance in which he missed only one green, thanks to his superb iron play, and three fairways.
While happy with his score Salhab, who won the Round Eight of the Xerox Corporate Golf Challenge 2017 and Marriott Riyadh-Dirab Corporate Golf Tournament to open the 2017-2018 season at Dirab, lamented the six makeable putts that he missed.
Salhab, an engineering student at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, was level par at the turn after a birdie at the ninth to offset his lone bogey at the seventh, the result of an aggressive chip and putt that was off line.
Salhab was putting for eagle on the par-five ninth after his seven-iron approach settled 25 feet from the cup.
Keeping his mistakes to the minimum, Salhab scorched the back nine, birdieing the 13th and three of the last four holes to finish four-under for the tournament.
Salhab, out for nine months to attend to personal issues, birdied all but one of the four par-fives including the 15th that saw another two-putt birdie. On 16th he dumped an eight-iron to 15 feet and made the birdie putt, then on the 17th he converted a five-footer after a good drive and a wedge from 70 yards.
Salhab was dialed in on the day to dominate a full field of 120 players. One of his playing partners, Dan McLaughlin, a two-handicap golfer, came apart apparently undone by the pressure while trying to catch up with Salhab. McLaughlin eventually finished on 91 following back nine of 46.
“I think this is not the best time for me to be with the national team. I’d be happy to play next year,” said Salhab who tipped his hat off to the Saudi team that came sixth in the 37th Pan Arab Amateur Championship that ended on Sunday in Jordan.
“They gave it their best shot but it’s simply not their week,” said Salhab who became club champion with the victory that mirrored a feat he achieved in 2015.
Stealing some of the thunder from Salhab was the Filipino trio of Nick Palce, Alex Arellano and Benjamin Santuyo.
Palce outdid himself as he won Best Net honors on 63 from a gross score of 91 and handicap of eight. Arellano won the Men’s First Division (handicap 0-9) on 70 (77-7) while Santuyo was the Men’s Third Division (19-28) champion on 70 (92-22).
Declan Lee and Russell Hargrove rounded out the first three winners in the First Division on 72 (78-6) and 73 (79-6) respectively. Gil Verano and Azman Mokhtar finished second and third in the Third Division on 71 (90-19) and 73 (95-22).
The Second Division (handicap 10-18) crown went to Waheed Aslam on 68 (84-16) with Majid Soror at second and Tariq Khan at third place via the countback after both players tied on 70.
Paromita Mukherjee, Joaun H. Kim and Chan Hwi Lee were the Ladies Division winners in the competition.
The skill prize for men’s and ladies longest drive went to Bernie Jacques and Chan and closest to the pin to McLaughlin.
SABB Managing Director David Dew handed out prizes to the winners during the prize distribution ceremony. Also present was Dirab Golf Committee Chairman Tariq Javed, golf course owner Khaled Abunayyan and DGC Golf Manager Bouchaib El Jadiani.