Two up-and-coming Qatari golfers, 18-year-old college student Saleh Al Kaabi and 31-year-old business owner Ghanim Al Kuwari, have earned the chance to compete with some of the world's best players at the 2013 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, a pivotal stop on the European Tour.
The two members of the Qatar National Golf Team qualified for a spot in the 16th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters by finishing as the top two Qatari Nationals at the 2013 Qatar Open amateur event this past weekend.
The European Tour sanctioned tournament will be staged on the Championship Course at the Doha Golf Club 23-26 January, Wednesday to Saturday. Al Kaabi and Al Kuwari will join a field that includes World Number Four Louis Oosthuizen*, World Number Five Justin Rose*, defending champion Paul Lawrie, Jason Dufner, Sergio Garcia and many other renowned professional golfers, all vying for the right to hoist the iconic Mother of Pearl trophy.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment for Saleh and Ghanim, and they will now get to represent Qatar against top-ranked players on a world stage. We hope they enjoy great support from the spectators at the tournament," said Andrew Stevens, Group CEO of Commercial Bank of Qatar.
Al Kaabi, the younger of the two, is training with hopes of becoming a full-time professional golfer and competing in events like the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters regularly. Now a scratch golfer, he grew up in a family full of regular players who started bringing him along to the course when he was five years old.
A graduate of Aspire Sports Academy and a first-year student at Qatar University, Al Kaabi has only been playing tournaments for about three years, but his coach, Mike Elliott, believes he has the skillset to make it as a touring golfer.
"He hits the ball extremely long, well over 300 yards regularly. He's up there in distance with anyone," said Elliott, the Qatar National Team coach. "He's also a very calm and focused person on the course. His temperament always remains the same, which is great. He's the whole package."
Al Kuwari, a married father of three, has been one of Qatar's top golfers at numerous points over the past decade. A sporadic tournament player, balancing his love of the game with life responsibilities, Al Kuwari has recently re-dedicated himself as a member of the Qatar National Team and played some of the best golf of his life. Elliott highlights Al Kuwari's course management and his putting as his top skills, calling him one of Qatar's most exceptional players on the green.
As regular playing partners on the National Team, the two golfers are enthusiastic about representing Qatar together and going toe to toe with the European Tour stars they usually watch on television.
Said Al Kuwari, "I'm really excited that we will play alongside the best pro golfers in the world next week."
"It's very exciting to be able to represent Qatar in such a prestigious, professional event," Al Kaabi added.
Both players admit they are excited to learn who they will be paired with when groups and tee times are announced in the days before the tournament, but their central focus remains on their own preparation. When Championship play begins on Wednesday, 23 January, the two Qataris hope to make a strong impression on the fans that turn out to watch them.
"The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters organisers and the thousands of spectators will all be supporting Ghanim and Saleh next week. Both men have worked tirelessly to improve their golf games, and now they have earned the opportunity of a lifetime to represent their country in a home tournament," President of the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) Hassan Al Nuaimi said. "Part of the mission of the QGA is to provide Qatari golfers with the access and the support needed to achieve at a world-class level. We are proud to have these two players representing Qatar golf in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters."
For fans interested in attending the 2013 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and following along with all the latest coverage, ticket, hospitality and official-page information can be found below: