JEDDAH: The PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers will provide the stage for the first steps into the professional game for Saudi golfers Faisal Salhab, 26, and Saud Al-Sharif, 23, after the pair announced their decision to turn professional ahead of the Asian Tour’s flagship event.
The duo become the second and third Saudi Arabian golfers to join the paid ranks, following in the footsteps of national teammate and friend, 36-year-old Othman Almulla.
All three will continue to be supported by Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation given the important role they play in demonstrating the benefits of the sport to the Saudi public, who now have more opportunities to try golf thanks to a number of mass participation programs and new access points.
Having had successful amateur careers, turning professional was the natural next step on the career pathway of Salhab and Al-Sharif, and should allow both players a platform to test their games against, and learn from, some of the world’s best players.
Salhab said: “This is another exciting step on our journey and where better to turn professional than in our home country at the PIF Saudi International?
“It has been a long journey to get to this point but the continued support of Golf Saudi, the Saudi Golf Federation, my coaching team, and friends and family has made all the difference.
“I want to thank them for everything and hope that I can continue my amateur success in the professional game, starting this week,” he added.
Al-Sharif echoed Salhab’s sentiments, adding: “Turning professional has been my goal since I first caught the golf bug as young kid, and I am so happy to have the opportunity to fully pursue golf as a career.
“There are so many people to thank but Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation have been integral to growing the game within the Kingdom and allowing both of us the opportunity to play golf and reach this point,” he said.
“I can’t wait to be on the road with Othman and Faisal testing ourselves against the best players and on the best courses, and hope that our story can help others to see and believe they can do the same and follow in our footsteps,” Al-Sharif added. “As well as winning on the international stage, we each share the dream of inspiring the next generation, and professional golf gives us the platform to do that.”
Both enter the professional game in impressive form, following December’s Saudi Open at Riyadh Golf Club, where Salhab clinched the overall title, with Al-Sharif, Saudi Arabia’s leading amateur, finishing second.
Following their first professional event at Royal Greens, both players will enjoy a full schedule of events on the Asian Tour, traveling from Saudi Arabia onto the International Series Oman and International Series Qatar, before venturing further east to the International Series in Thailand.
Almulla, who became the first-ever Saudi professional in 2019, praised his compatriots in taking the next steps in their careers, and hopes to be able to share advice as the two forge new paths.
“Turning professional is the biggest decision I’ve ever made and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support I have received from everyone at Golf Saudi, the Saudi Golf Federation and my sponsors.
“Life on tour is a pretty demanding one, so I’m hoping that I can help the guys avoid some of my mistakes and do whatever I can to help them overcome some of the early challenges of turning professional,” he said.
“More than anything, I’m looking forward to competing on the world stage alongside my countrymen and, hopefully, seeing one of them lift a trophy in the very near future,” Almulla added.