Othman Almulla has heart set on teeing it up with Dustin Johnson and Co. in the Saudi International

1 / 2
Almulla has already played in three European Tour events. (AAC)
2 / 2
Updated 06 November 2018
0

Othman Almulla has heart set on teeing it up with Dustin Johnson and Co. in the Saudi International

  • Saudi No. 1 out to play in inaugural European Tour event to take place in Kingdom.
  • Almulla waiting to here if he has got an invite.

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.”


Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

Updated 21 July 2019
0

Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

  • Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall
  • Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics under the refugee flag

GWANGJU, South Korea: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who almost drowned at sea fleeing her war-torn country four years ago, heaved a deep sigh after failing to set a personal best at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Representing FINA’s independent athletes team, the 21-year-old looked up at the giant scoreboard and winced at her time of 1min 8.79sec in the 100 meters butterfly heats in South Korea.
“I’m not very happy actually,” Mardini told AFP.
“I had some problems with my shoulder but I’m back in training. I still have the 100m freestyle and I’m looking forward to that.”
Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall, but she has come a long way since risking her life crossing from Izmir in Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the summer of 2015.
Thirty minutes into that treacherous journey, the motor on their dinghy cut out and the tiny vessel, carrying 20 people rather than the six or seven it was designed for, threatened to capsize.
As the only people who could swim, Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped into the water to push and pull the stricken dinghy for over three hours until they finally reached the shore.
“I arrived in Greece in only jeans and a T-shirt,” said Mardini, who also swims in the 100m freestyle later this week. “Even my shoes were gone.”
Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics a year later under the refugee flag.
“In the beginning I refused to be in a refugee team because I was afraid people would think I got the chance because of my story,” said Mardini, who now lives with her family in Berlin.
“I wanted to earn it. But then I realized I had a big opportunity to represent those people — so I took the chance and I never regretted it,” she added.
“Rio was amazing. It was really exciting to see the reaction of people to the team. Now I’m representing millions of displaced people around the world and it really makes me proud.”
It is a far cry from life back in Syria, where rocket strikes would often shake the pool she trained at in Damascus.
“There were bomb attacks sometimes that would crack the windows around the pool,” said Mardini, who has addressed the United Nations general assembly and whose story is set to be told in a Hollywood movie.
“We were scared the whole time.”
Fellow Syrian Ayman Kelzieh was also forced to flee the country before competing at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Returning to Korea five years later, the 26-year-old now owns a fistful of national swim records, including the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly.
“When the war started I had just moved to Damascus and I couldn’t get back home to Aleppo,” said Kelzieh, who now lives on the Thai island of Phuket.
“But even in Damascus bombs sometimes even went off at the swimming pool we trained at,” he added after taking a poolside selfie with his idol, South African star Chad le Clos.
“There were even attacks at the hotel I stayed in — I was lucky.”