Ahmad Skaik hit the opening tee shot at the Aviv Dubai Championship
Ahmad Skaik hit the opening tee shot at the Aviv Dubai Championship Image Credit: Supplied

Thursday heralded a new era for golf in the UAE after Ahmad Skaik, the country’s No.1 golfer, carded the lowest European Tour round by an Emirati on the opening day of the Aviv Dubai Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Fresh off his heroics last week at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, where he became only the second Emirati to make the cut, Skaik came out all guns blazing on the Fire course, carding five birdies and just one bogey to post a brilliant four under par 68.

“I don’t know what to say to be honest, I’m very happy,” said a delighted Skaik, who hit the opening tee shot. “My game was in control from the first hole until the end. It’s a shame my only bogey was a three-putt, but that happens and I was happy to keep it up after that.

“I made some really good putts out there; it was on fire up until hole 13, and then the last few holes they were all two-putts. I hit so many good shots today, I just need to process what just happened!”

Skaik’s finish of 42nd in last week’s prestigious AAC was the second-best result by an Emirati after Ahmed Al Musharrekh finished in a share of 24th in 2011. Having proven to himself that he can mix it with the very best, Skaik came into the penultimate European Tour event of the season full of confidence.

“For sure,” replied Skaik when asked if he was feeling confident after last week. “I didn’t think I was going to make the cut last week, so in doing that, it has given me a wakeup call that I am much better than I think I am, and I should just trust myself and my game. I did that today and it worked out pretty well I think!”

The 24-year-old, who has his performance coach Steve Thomas on the bag this week, now turns his attentions to becoming the first Emirati to make the cut at a European Tour event.

“It would be my best week ever if I were to make the cut,” he said. “I’m just going to go there tomorrow and do the same, hit the same shots, stay patient, and see what is out there for me.”