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KAEC: Saudi amateur golfers Saud Al-Sharif and Faisal Salhab have reinforced their belief that they can reach the top of the sport following their appearance at the fourth edition of the Saudi International held at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.

Al-Sharif has enjoyed success at Jordan’s Open Golf Championship recently, while Salhab was crowned champion of the sixth edition of the Saudi Open.

The national team players were also part of the victorious Saudi team that won the Pan Arab Championship. The pair joined Othman Al-Mulla, Saudi Arabia’s sole professional, this weekend for the fourth edition of the fast-growing tournament.

Salhab, one of the leading members of the Saudi national team that also won the Arabian Championship in Cairo, told Arab News as he left the course on Friday that it is a privilege to play in a tournament alongside some of the biggest names in golf.

“Participating in such big tournament means a lot to me. This is a great experience and I’m honored to play with the pros,” he said.

“It is great to watch the development that the Kingdom is making in golf, in addition to seeing these stars competing on Saudi soil.”

Salhab’s ultimate aim is to play the PGA Tour, and the Saudi International is one step on the path to the sport’s summit.

“Sure, it is the dream of any amateur golfer, but I still have a long way to reach my goal.”

Asked how he sees the growth of golf in Saudi Arabia, the 25-year-old said that he believes more golfers will emerge in the country thanks to tournaments held around the Kingdom.

“You can see it for yourself, every year is getting better and more Saudis are getting involved with golf. I have been part of the foundation of golf here and, hopefully, the next generation will be much better than us and there will be more of them.”

Al-Sharif also hopes to compete internationally as a professional golfer. “One of my ambitions is to become a professional on the European or PGA tours, to be the first Saudi or even Arab professional on the tour,” he said.

“It’s an honor to represent my country in such a huge tournament as the Saudi International, with all those renowned names in golf.”

Al-Sharif, who has won the GCC championship three times and the Arab Championship twice, said that the sport is growing rapidly in the Kingdom, with Golf Saudi, the Saudi Golf Federation and the Ministry of Sports providing a host of new opportunities.

“It is our responsibility as ambassadors and enthusiasts to share that experience. International tournaments such as the Saudi International championship help to spread that message.”

Golf Saudi is running its first National Golf Week alongside the fourth edition of the Saudi International tournament, with multiple golf activities and opportunities organized throughout the Kingdom, including free golf across all its courses. 

“Golf Saudi has contributed to the growth of golf in the Kingdom. All of the work that has been done in schools, with children, and, of course, with the national team, has been outstanding,” said Al-Sharif. 

“With the program they’ve put in place, I believe we’ll see a lot more Saudis getting enthused about golf. My advice to young kids who want to learn to play golf is to have fun.”

Al-Sharif and Salhab hope their time at the Saudi International will serve as an educational tool as they continue to climb the competitive ladder.