The legendary Bahraini golfer Nasser Yacoub will be around to defend his title against a field featuring some of the big names in the region when the 4th Saudi Oger Amateur Golf Championship 2012 takes place tomorrow at the Dirab Golf & Country Club.
Prince Khaled bin Saud Al Faisal, enjoying a rich vein of form as he won the SABB Open on Nov. 16, will lead the Saudi challenge along with the veteran golfer and Saudi national team coach Ali Balharith, exciting young player Faisal Salhab, Fahad Almansour Omar Hariri, Abdullah Hussain and Mohammed Al Khaldi.
A pair of Omani golfers is also entered and so are players from Kuwait, Oman and the UAE, according to DGCC Golf Manager Bouchaib El Jadiani.
Considered as the national golf championship of the country the two-day 36-hole tournament does not fail to attract the best players from the Kingdom’s Gulf neighbors ever since it was revived in 2009 when Saudi Oger Ltd. came on board as the title sponsor.
This marks the fourth consecutive year Saudi Oger is supporting the prestigious event and the company’s Corporate Communications Manager Mazen Fayed is hoping a Saudi will be crowned the champion on Friday.
No Saudi has won since the talented young golfer Khaled Attieh, now based in the United States, romped to a six-stroke victory in a historic feat in 2010 when he became the youngest winner at 15 years, 11 months and 1 day.
The year before the former Saudi No. 1 Othman Almulla had a chance at victory but lost in a sudden death playoff to Korean M. S. Kim, who is again expected to be among those vying from the expatriate golf community.
Yacoub beat fellow countryman Hamed Mubarak Al Afnan on the first hole of sudden death to win the title last year. Yacoub, of course, is no stranger to Dirab having won the inaugural staging of the Saudi Amateur Golf Championship in the late 90s.
The event actually starts with a practice round from 6 a.m. for the competitors today although not a few have had rounds earlier in the week including the Eastern Province-based Balharith and Hariri who played yesterday and Salhab who has been practicing since Monday.
Yacoub and the rest of the foreign players are to hit the golf course for a practice round today.
It will be a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start tomorrow for the 132-player field although some groups will have afternoon tee times. After the first round the field will be cut by almost half with the top 40 gross and top 32 net including ties to play in the second round Friday.