Amateur golfer wins national tourney, qualifies for Saudi International

Faisal Salhab goes up and down on the 18th hole on his way to a birdie during the Saudi Open final round. (Photo by  Noel A. Alipoyo)
Updated 02 December 2019

Amateur golfer wins national tourney, qualifies for Saudi International

  • Faisal Salhab and English pro Jamie Elson to make debut at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

JEDDAH: Saudi amateur golfer Faisal Salhab played No. 18 at 4 under for a 54-hole tournament as he stormed to a six-stroke victory in the 2019 Saudi Open on Saturday, qualifying for next year’s Saudi International — a European Tour event that will feature some of the biggest names in world golf.

He will be joined in the tournament, to be held from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club at King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) by English professional division winner Jamie Elson, who closed with a 1-under 71 for a three-day total of 210 on Saturday ahead of the Moroccan pair Ahmed Marjan and Ayoub Id Omar.

Saudi Golf Federation Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan attended the prize-giving ceremony and awarded trophies to Salhab and Elson.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka will headline the star-studded field vying for a total prize fund of $3.5 million.

Also confirmed to play are former Masters champions Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia, as well as reigning Open champion Shane Lowry and 2016 Open winner Henrik Stenson.

Salhab, a 23-year-old engineering student at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, could give the likes of Johnson a run for their money given his prodigious length off the tee.

In the first round on Thursday, Salhab tamed the 7,330 yard layout with a 3-under 69, capping his rousing start when his up-and-down from the bunker on 18 landed four feet from the cup, and making the putt for a birdie.




Amateur division winner Faisal Salhab receives his trophy from Yasir Al-Rumayyan. (Photo by 
Noel A. Alipoyo)

Salhab played even better on Friday. He overshot the green to the right with his driver but holed his wedge for an eagle two that enabled him to temper an otherwise wild round of 74.

He again birdied 18 on the final day for a closing 71 and a 214 total, to the delight of the gallery, including his father, who Salhab said had always pushed him to the next level.

“This is my biggest individual victory,” said Salhab, who will travel to Dubai this week for a training camp with the rest of the Saudi national team, including 2018 Saudi Open winner Saud Al-Sharif.

The team is preparing for the Pan Arab Golf Championship from Dec. 9 to 15 in Morocco.

Salhab had missed the chance to join it for the inaugural Saudi International early this year because of his studies.

With his golf schedule now “back on track,” Salhab, whose family of seven all play golf, is looking to at least make the cut for next year’s Saudi International.

“I’m excited. I hope to play well, enjoy myself, and try to get the ball in the hole,” he told Arab News.

Elson said he was particularly thrilled to be joining some of the world’s best players in KAEC come January.

“I am incredibly happy, I started with my best round on the first day and everything came together so well for me. I hope to take my performance one step further once the Saudi International starts in January and continue my recent good run of form,” he said.


Spanish driver Carlos Sainz wins Dakar Rally for third time

Updated 26 min 45 sec ago

Spanish driver Carlos Sainz wins Dakar Rally for third time

  • Asked about defending his title next year Sainz said: “It’s too early to think about it, let me enjoy this”
  • He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018

QIDDIYA: Veteran Spanish driver Carlos Sainz won the Dakar Rally for the third time on Friday, finishing with a comfortable winning margin in the first running of the event in Saudi Arabia.
The 57-year-old crossed the line in the 12th and final stage 6min 21sec ahead of nearest challenger and reigning champion Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, who had managed to cut Sainz’s lead to just 24 seconds on Tuesday but fell back after navigation blunders.
“I feel very happy. There’s a lot of effort behind this. A lot of training, practice,” Sainz told the race’s website.
“It has been a flat out rally since the beginning. It was fantastic, a first time in Saudi Arabia, of course you can always improve but it was a fantastic effort,” he added.
Asked about defending his title next year Sainz said: “It’s too early to think about it, let me enjoy this.”
Sainz, the father of F1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr., seized control of the race from the third stage in his X-raid Mini.
He has now won the Dakar with three different manufacturers, having previously triumphed with Volkswagen in 2010 and Peugeot in 2018.
Stephane Peterhansel was third at 9min 58sec behind in his Mini. Both the Frenchman and Sainz won four stages in the marathon 12-day, 7,800-kilometer (4,800-mile) race.
Ricky Brabec triumphed in the motorbike section for Honda, becoming the first US rider to win the gruelling race.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso finished 13th on his Dakar debut, nearly five hours behind the winner.
Alonso came second in one stage but his first participation in the Dakar was a bruising affair as the 38-year-old Spaniard suffered a double rollover in the 10th stage after hitting a dune at an awkward angle.