Written By: Joy Chakravarty
SINGAPORE, Oct 3: Ahmed Skaik and Abdullah Al Musharrekh will be flying the UAE flag in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC), the premier amateur tournament of the region when play begins at Sentosa Golf Club from Thursday.
Both Skaik and Musharrekh are making a comeback of sorts to the game, but are confident of putting on a good show in a tournament which offers a dream reward to the champion – an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and a place in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in 2019, provided he retains his amateur status.
Skaik finished his final year in International Studies from the American University of Dubai, while Musharrekh has recently returned from South America, where he was working with Mubadala for the past four years.
This is Skaik’s second AAC appearance after missing the cut last year in Wellington.
“It’s not been a very good season for me as the focus was more on studies. But I am now done and have started concentrating on my golf again,” said the 21-year-old, who has plans of turning professional in a few years and aim for an Olympic spot in 2024.
“This is the biggest event we play all year and I have tried to prepare with it in mind. I have a few important events after this like the Pan Arab Games, so I am hoping all my hard work will pay off, starting this week.”
Abdullah played in the inaugural AAC in 2009 and is making his second appearance in the event as well. But he is not short of motivation as his younger brother, Ahmed, holds the record of best finish by a UAE golfer in the tournament (T24 at even par), which also came in Singapore when the tournament was last played here in 2011.
“Ahmed played very well that year. He was very consistent and shot two sub-par rounds. That was one of the proudest moments for UAE golf. And yes, that gives me motivation,” said Abdullah.
“I was busy with my career with Mubadala and then did my national service. Golf wasn’t a priority for almost 4-5 years. But I am now back in the UAE and I want to be part of the national team on a regular basis. I am a very competitive person, so I know golf is not going to be a simple leisure sport for me.”
Skaik admitted winning the tournament would be difficult, but he was confident that they would both make it to the weekend.
“The level here is pretty high. And as I said, I haven’t been playing regularly earlier in the year. But I know that if I play to my potential, I can post a good result this week,” he added.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which is now one of the five ‘Elite’ events on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is organized by The Masters and the R&A in association with the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation. It is supported by six Proud Partners – AT&T, 3M, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, Delta and UPS – and two Scoring Partners, Rolex, and IBM.