LONDON: Othman Almulla, Saudi Arabia’s No. 1 golfer, said it would be a dream come true if he is selected to play in the inaugural European Tour event in the Kingdom.
Almulla, 32, has already teed off at Tour events in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, but to pound the fairways of the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in the Saudi International early next year would surpass all that. Almulla is waiting on the judgment of the Saudi Arabian Golf Federation to see if he will be given the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Thomas Bjorn from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.
“I hope to be considered,” Almulla said.
“There are a few of us being considered, but I think I’ve got a pretty good chance. It would be incredible if I was picked. I’m over the moon my country is hosting the tournament, but to play and share the course with these great players would be a dream. It’s just great to be part of the conversation.”
Almulla is the most decorated golfer from the Kingdom. He has won the Dubai Desert Classic qualifier, the Pan Arab Amateur Championship, the Qatar Open, the GCC Championship, the Saudi Golf Federation Open twice and the Pan Arab Team Championship. He is in good form right now too, which should help his cause. Last month he became the first Saudi player to make the cut and shoot a sub-par round at the Asian-Pacific Amateur Championship, the region’s premier amateur tournament.
He said: "I am happy to make some history for my country but what would give me more satisfaction is if I can motivate a few youngsters to take up the game thinking that if I can do it, so can they. That would be the best outcome of my efforts here.”
American star Dustin Johnson is set to tee it up at the Royal Greens course early next year.
Almulla will have the advantage of local knowledge should he be picked as he practices often at Royal Greens that the course in the district of Al-Murooj is like his “second home.”
“Royal Greens will host an amazing tournament,” he said. “It’s beautiful. The golf course is incredible and so is the hospitality. People will be a bit awestruck. It’s a world-class facility. I can’t wait to welcome the European Tour to my country.”
The course plays to a par of 72 and stretches along the Red Sea coastline. Construction first started in 2008 but it took until the end of 2017 for the clubhouse to open.
“How it plays will depend on the wind, with it being on the Red Sea,” said Almulla.
“There are a few courses in Riyadh that could have been considered, but Royal Greens is probably the best one. It has everything. The city is so beautiful and people will be pleasantly surprised.
“I’ve always been jealous of Dubai as they have 10 amazing courses and hosted big events, but now we have world-class courses in Saudi Arabia and a European Tour event. I never imagined this could happen. We are very lucky.”
The staging of a European Tour event in the Kingdom for the first time is a further example of the General Sports Authority’s bid to turn the country into a hotbed of top sporting events. This year the Kingdom has hosted the first ever women’s sports event in the shape of the Saudi Squash Masters; was home to the Race of Champions, the first ever motorsport event to take place in the country; staged the final of the World Boxing Super Series between Callum Smith and George Groves — while the plan is to stage the richest horse race in the world next year. The Italian Supercup will also take place in Riyadh in January.
“I’m happy to share my country with the world,” said Almulla. “The European Tour does a great job in showcasing the game, but also the country. It doesn’t just showcase the golf, it showcases the history and culture of the country. We want people to come and look at how beautiful our customs and traditions are. If you are visitors we will treat you like family and we want to show the very best of the Arab culture.”