Khalid Yousuf saved his best for the last as two birdies in his last four holes helped him win The Presidents Cup by three shots at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Saturday.
The Presidents Cup is a brand new championship of the Emirates Golf Federation, replacing the erstwhile Lexus National Championship. The new tournament now has the blessings of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. It also has a new sponsor in HSBC UAE.
It was the fourth National title for the 23-year-old Yousuf, who last won EGF’s flagship event in 2009.
In the two-day tournament played over the tough and windy Gary Player-designed layout, Yousuf shot rounds of 74 and 76 for a total of 150, three better than defending champion Abdulla Al Musharrekh (78-75). There was a tie for third place at 155 between Saif Thabet and Sohail Al Marzouqi, with Sohail taking the prize on countback after his strong finish of one-under par on the last nine holes yesterday.
In the junior division, Ahmed Skaik won both the gross and net prizes on offer with rounds of 84 and 87. That accounted for gross 171 and net 157.
The prizes were distributed by EGF chairman Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi and Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO, HSBC UAE.
EGF Secretary General Khalid Mubarak Al Shamsi said: “The Presidents Cup definitely is a new chapter in the history of golf in the UAE. The Royal blessing definitely elevates the stature of the tournament, and we would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for that.
“For any tournament to succeed, we also need a committed sponsor, and in sport, very few companies can match the credibility of HSBC. We are looking forward to many years of working along with them to make The Presidents Cup even bigger.
“Congratulations also to Khalid Yousuf and all the other players in the field. They are the most important past of the tournament and it is very encouraging for us to see that the standards of the game is constantly improving in the country.”
Yousuf said: “I am really delighted. The tournament definitely has a much bigger stature now with the President’s name attached.
“I haven’t been playing well lately…been a bit short of practice, I thought. But this victory feels really good.”
It was much closer than the scores indicate, and Yousuf was actually a shot behind Abdulla after 14 holes yesterday. But it all changed when he made a birdie on the tough par-3 sixth hole (his 15th), while Abdulla could only muster up a bogey.
“That was the crucial moment. It was 206 yards and the pin was at the back. I flushed a 4-iron to 10 feet and made a very good downhill putt,” said Yousuf, who finished with a birdie on the final hole.