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)
Updated 07 December 2017
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Salhab shoots career-best 68 to win SABB Golf Championship

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.


Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad Super Cup final in London shines light on passionate Saudi Arabian fans

Updated 20 August 2018
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Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad Super Cup final in London shines light on passionate Saudi Arabian fans

  • For the third time in four years on Saturday, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) staged the Super Cup final in West London
  • Some fans traveled from Riyadh wearing the blue of Al-Hilal, others from Jeddah sporting the famous yellow and black stripes of Al-Ittihad

LONDON: There is a debate raging in England right now about whether or not the Premier League should consider staging some of its matches abroad. It comes on the back of the news that Spain’s top flight will stage matches in the US and Canada.
Saudi Arabia, however, are way ahead of the pack on that front. They began exporting their game a few seasons ago. For the third time in four years on Saturday, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) staged the Super Cup final in West London and the supporters lapped it up. Many arrived outside the Loftus Road stadium more than four hours before kick-off just to be part of the buzz on the streets, to the sample the build-up to the clash between the two most decorated teams in the Kingdom. Between them, they have won the Saudi Pro League title 23 times.
The residents of South Africa Road would have thought they were in for a quiet Saturday night, what with Queens Park Rangers playing away at West Bromwich Albion. But instead the area reverberated to the sound of Arabian drums as two sets of passionate fans created the kind of carnival and febrile atmosphere usually only associated with a London derby.
Some fans traveled from Riyadh wearing the blue of Al-Hilal, others from Jeddah sporting the famous yellow and black stripes of Al-Ittihad. Even neutrals from the large London expat community turned up.
“I support Al-Ahli,” said Abdullah Idroos, a 35-year-old from Yemen who works at the nearby Westfield shopping center in Shepherd’s Bush.
“I like the atmosphere of the Super Cup with the all the Arab fans together, so that’s why I came.”
He said he was supporting Al-Ittihad on the night because “I don’t like Al-Hilal — they win too many trophies.”
That may be the case, with Al-Hilal winning 15 league titles to Al-Ittihad’s eight, but that did not stop the Al-Ittihad fans teasing the supporters of the team in blue.
“Alamar sabah qawiah,” they chanted outside the stadium before kick-off. Roughly translated it meant “It’s hard and difficult for you” to accept that Al-Ittihad finished fourth at the Club World Cup in 2005, something Al-Hilal have not done. It was all in good humor and there was not a trace of the bitterness or even hostility you usually associate with football rivals such as these. Big derbies like this would usually see a sizeable police presence but there was not a policeman in sight before the game.
The good-nature of the rivalry was summed up by cousins Saad and Saad standing side by side, like brother’s in arms, one supporting Al-Hilal and one rooting for Al-Ittihad.
“We fight with each other during the game but afterwards, it’s no problem.” The transport workers came over especially from Khobar, combining a holiday and taking in the game.
“The flights were expensive but it is better the game is in London because of the climate,” one of them said. “It is too hot in Saudi.”
The climate in the Kingdom — it was an average of 33 degrees on Saturday — was one factor but not the only one in transplanting the game 3,000 miles to London.
“We do it because it is good for our players to gather more international experience, to learn what it’s like to play in large overseas stadia, and of course, there is a large Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern population living and working in London,” said Luia Al-Subaiey, the General Secretary of SAFF.
There are around 300,000 Arabs living in London, but another, Bader Ali, came down by train from Oxford to catch the game. He is undertaking a three-month intensive course in English before returning to the Kingdom to study medicine.
“It’s good the game is here as there are lots of Saudis in London,” said the 19-year-old. “It makes a nice change as the games are always in Saudi. I’ve never been to a game here before so was really excited. I hear a lot about the atmosphere at English games.”
Bader’s favorite player is Carlos Eduardo so he would have been delighted the Brazilian scored the first goal of the game. Just as thrilled was Khalid Aiman. The 30-year-old IT Support worker at a school in North London turned entrepreneur for the day and had 165 pieces of Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad colored attire, including hats, wigs, flags and scarfs, flown over from a market in Jeddah. They sold very well. One blue-and-white hat was purchased by a passing Chelsea fan. He paid for the hat with his ticket for the Super Cup game. “I managed to sell that on, too,” said Khalid.
It was the hottest ticket in town and even the ticket touts were doing a brisk trade.
“We couldn’t tell what it was going to be like as it was a bit of an unknown market for us,” said one tout.
“I’m surprised it’s not sold out. If we were down the road at Chelsea we’d probably be doing a roaring trade, but we’d probably get arrested there. This isn’t an official game so we are OK here. We’ve sold quite a few.”
Those not lucky enough to get a ticket would have tuned in from the Kingdom. Nawaf Al-Marscad was dispatched from Riyadh by Dawri Plus to cover the game.
“It’s a massive game in Saudi,” said Al-Marscad. “It (would have been) watched by millions. These are two, big, big teams and it is a good chance to show London how good the Saudi game is.”
Amid a cacophonous atmosphere, Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad served up a cracking match. Jorge Jesus, the Al-Hilal coach, has been there, done that and seen it all during his coaching his career but you just had to see his celebration at the final whistle, having seen his side win 2-1, to figure out how much winning the match meant to him and the jubilant Al-Hilal fans.
“It was amazing,” said Al-Hilal fan Mohamad, a 27-year-old graduate from King’s College. “We deserved to win maybe by four of five goals. I hope we can play here again as it was an amazing atmosphere.”