Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla battled through the weekend with a nasty blister. (Photos courtesy Asia Pacific Golf Federation)
By Kent Gray
Rayhan Thomas’ charge to second place in the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship justifiably dominated the headlines but wasn’t the only meritorious accomplishment by the Middle East contingent in Singapore.
Almost lost in the fervour of Thomas’ close run thing were the historic performances of Othman Almulla and Shergo Al Kurdi who became the first players from Saudi Arabia and Jordan respectively to make the cut at the prestigious event co-sanctioned by the R&A and Augusta National Golf Club.
Almulla limped on, quite literally, after a momentous opening round 69 at Sentosa Golf Club with a four-over 74 second round to make the cut by three strokes. His weekend wasn’t quite as the 32-year-old hoped for – rounds of 78-77 seeing him finish with a +18, 298 total, a not insignificant 31 shots behind Japanese champion Takumi Kanaya.
But with the beauty of hindsight, it was a breakthrough effort.
“It’s pretty special, to be honest,” Almulla said after finishing T-60 of the 63 players to make the 36-hole cut.
“It was my goal this week to play four solid rounds. And to play four solid rounds, you have to make the cut.”
A nasty blister on his left sole didn’t help from Friday onwards, not that Almulla was looking for excuses.
“I wish I could use the blister as an excuse, but that really wasn’t the case. My body is used to heat, but I guess not the type of heat we have here in Singapore. It did not hurt much when I was swinging, but it was definitely painful to walk,” he added.
Almulla is set to tee it up in the Pan Arab Championship in Tunisia this week and hopes he can kick on from his performance in Singapore and help raise the profile of golf in Saudi Arabia.
“We have had a few good players from Saudi before, but I think what we now have is some very good support system back home,” he said.
“I am happy to make some history for my country but what would give me more satisfaction is if I can motivate a few youngsters to take up the game thinking that if I can do it, so can they. That would be the best outcome of my efforts here.”
Another notable cut maker in Singapore was Al Kurdi.
Al Kurdi, just 15, was the youngest player in the field and just like Almulla, became the first player from Jordan to record a sub-par round on Thursday (69). The reigning Jordan Amateur champion advanced to the weekend by a stroke despite an agonising triple-bogey 7 in his second round before closing out with rounds of 84-72 to finish 62nd on 301, + 21.
UAE interest, outside of Thomas, ended on Friday with both Ahmad Skaik and Abdulla Al Musharrekh missing the cut by five and 19 strokes respectively.
Here’s the final scores from all the Middle East* players in Singapore:
2nd: *Rayhan Thomas (India) 74-64-65-66 – 269 (-11)
T-60: Othman Almulla (Saudi Arabia) 69-74-78-77 – 298 (+18)
62nd: Shergo AL Kurdi (Jordan) 69-76-84-72 – 301 (+21)
Missed Cut (the cut line was 146)
Cut: Ali Abdulla Al-Shahrani (Qatar) 74-76 — 150 (+10)
Cut: Ahmad Skaik (UAE) 76-75 — 151 (+11)
Cut: Azzan Al Rumhi (Oman) 78-75 –153 (+13)
Cut: Ali Khazanbeik (Iran) 75-80 — 155 (+15)
Cut: Amer Abdulhasan Radee (Iraq) 79-76 — 155 (+15)
Cut: Saleh Al Kaabi (Qatar) 77-81 — 158 (+18)
Cut: Arthur Barakat (Lebanon) 78-80 — 158 (+18)
Cut: Saud Al Sharif (Saudi Arabia) 80-81 — 161 (+21)
Cut: Hassan Karimian Noshahr (Iran) 77-85 — 162 (+22)
Cut: Saqer Al Noaimi (Bahrain) 85-79 –164 (+24)
Cut: Abdulla Al Musharrekh (UAE) 84-81 – 165 (+25)
Cut: Mohamed Al Noaimi (Bahrain) 87-80 – 167 (+27)
Cut: Rachid Akl (Lebanon) 87-81 – 168 (+28)
Cut: Asad Al Rawashdeh (Jordan) 89-86 – 175 (+35)
* Thomas is based in Dubai.