Saleh Al Kaabi is approaching this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters with extra confidence after finishing runner-up in this month’s Qatar Open Amateur following a closing five-under-par 67 at Doha Golf Club.
Qatar’s top-ranked amateur was proud of his best finish in the tournament after posting a three-under total of 213 (71-75-67) to finish three behind Dutch teenager Pierre Verlaar Jr, who’s also competing in this week’s field.
It was the latest impressive result by Al Kaabi, who finished third at November’s King Hamad Trophy in Bahrain and won December’s SGF Open amateur tournament in Saudi Arabia.
On Thursday, Al Kaabi will renew his quest to become the first Qatari to make the cut at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as he makes his fifth straight appearance in the European Tour event. He will be one of three Qataris alongside fellow 22-year-old Ali Al Shahrani, also playing for a fifth time, and newcomer Abdulrahman Al Shahrani, 29.
“It’s my fifth Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and this year I’m really motivated because I’ve had good finishes in my last three tournaments,” said Al Kaabi, a long-time Team Qatar representative who trains under national team coach Mike Elliott.
“I shot 67 on the last day of the Qatar Open to finish second on three-under and that has really motivated me. For two days, I shot under par, but on the second day the winds were over 30 miles per hour and this course gets tough in those conditions. I finished three shots behind the leader and I was especially happy with my score on the last day.
“I also finished five-under for three rounds at the King Hamad Trophy, won by Andrew Marshall, who’s a pro. I came third and that was a really good result for me. In December, I won the Saudi Open, so I’m really motivated for this week and think I have a good chance of making the cut this year.”
Al Kaabi has expressed similar sentiments in the past, but has struggled to make an impact against a full-strength European Tour field on a course that he’s familiar with but which is toughened up for the pros.
His lowest round at the tournament is a second-round 70 in 2014, when he missed the cut by five shots. The top 65 players plus ties after Friday’s second round will play all 72 holes.
“For the past few months, I’ve been shooting under par most of the time and even on a bad day, I shoot a maximum of three over. On a good day, I can really light it up and go five or six under. I’m going to do my best to make the cut and then be in the top 60,” Al Kaabi added.
“In 2014, I shot 70 but I didn’t score well on the first day. I hope this year I start well, follow up well, and make it to the third and fourth days of the tournament.”
Ali Al Shahrani has played in the tournament for the past three years, having made his debut in 2012 as a 17-year-old, while Abdulrahman Al Shahrani is delighted to join the pair and form Qatar’s largest contingent at the tournament.
“Of course, I’m excited to be playing here for the first time. It will be very difficult, but it will be great to play with the best players in the world. I need to gain as much experience as I can from this tournament.”