Top-ranked Emirati golfer Ahmed Al Musharrekh has turned professional, and will make his debut in the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Open, the opening event of the 2012 MENA Golf Tour, starting on September 24. One the most promising players on the regional circuit, Al Musharrekh is the first UAE national ever to join the ranks of playing Tour professionals, his long-anticipated decision reflecting the changing mindset of the region’s emerging talent who are far more proactive and want to make a career out of golf.
“I have a tremendous passion and respect for the game of golf and can’t wait for the challenge of taking my game to the next level,” said Al Musharrekh, whose sterling amateur career is highlighted by his gold medal winning performances in the 2011 Arab Games and the 2012 GCC Championships.
“It has always been my dream to play as a professional and I am glad that I have finally made the decision. I am really proud of my achievements with the UAE national team, but feel the time has come to move on to newer and bigger challenges,” said the 21-year-old Sharjah-born prodigy who learned the basic rudiments of the game at the Junior Development Programme (JDP) started by the then UAE Golf Association — now known as the Emirates Golf Federation — in 1994.
“It will be great to play my first event as a professional at Dubai Creek which is my home course, having taken my first golf lesson there as a six-year-old boy. I hope I can live up to expectations. I will try and give my shot. At the end of the day, it’s the score on your card that counts and not the local knowledge,” said Al Musharrekh.
Since winning the UAE National Championship in 2008, the Sharjah-born prodigy has never looked back. The first player from the UAE to qualify for the Egyptian Open, a European Challenge Tour event, in October 2010, Ahmed also featured in the 2012 Omega Dubai Desert Classic on a sponsor’s invitation and shot a creditable level-par 72 in the second round before missing the cut by just three shots.
Al Musharrekh, who attended the David Leadbetter Academy in the United States in 2008 as part of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation Scholarship, follows in the footsteps of UAE-based Joel Neale and Scotland’s Greg Nicholson, who both used the first event of the 2011 MENA Golf Tour to launch their professional careers.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, said: “It’s good to see top players from the region – and even outside of it – are turning to the tour to advance their careers which augurs well for the overall development of the game in this part of the world.
“Ahmed’s decision to turn pro shows the self-confidence that the emerging players have in their game which means they are already halfway there in realizing their goals. I wish Ahmed the very best and hope he will continue to bring laurels for the country.”
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour this year consists of six events, including one in Saudi Arabia.
The top three professionals and the leading amateur from their respective Orders of Merit will receive special invitations to compete in the 2013 Omega Dubai Desert Classic. In addition, the top amateur will be awarded with the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation scholarship.
Affiliated to R&A and the Arab Golf Federation, the MENA Golf Tour is backed by Omega and Mercedes-Benz and boasts a combined prize fund of $325,000.