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UAE team will look to exploit home advantage

Bahrain won the GCC Championship last year

Gulf News

Dubai: Ahmad Al Musharrakh will spearhead the UAE team's challenge when they compete in the GCC Championship that gets under way at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club today.

The Arab Games gold medal winner will be joined by the experienced Khalid Yousuf, Sohail Al Marzouqi and Saeed Malek in the four-member team, which will be aiming to go the full distance this time after finishing runners-up to Bahrain in last year's championship at the Royal Golf Club in Bahrain.

Al Marzouqi and Malek are making a comeback into the national team after putting on solid performances in a qualifying round held in the run-up to the final selection of the team.

High on confidence

Al Musharrakh is high on confidence after shooting a level-par 72 in the second round of the recent Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He may have missed the cut, but he hopes the experience of playing alongside world-class players in the European Tour event will stand him in good stead in this regional competition.

"We have competed in the GCC Championship many times and hence know what to expect," Al Musharrakh said. "In a team event like this one, we all need to be consistent.

"Over the years, the standard of the game in the GCC countries has improved dramatically and any team on a good day can spring a surprise. The key will be to stay focused on the job.

"All members of the team are pretty familiar with the course at the Creek. Local knowledge could come in handy, but at the end of the day, it will all depend how we exploit home advantage," Al Musharrakh, who beat Bahrain's Hamad Mubarak to win the individual gold medal at the recent Arab Games in Doha, added.

"What happened at the Arab Games is history. This is a new tournament and we are looking forward to making a fresh start."

Chris Vallendar, coach of the UAE national team, was equally upbeat about the team's chances in the championship.

"The boys have worked hard on their game and the good thing is they are approaching the event with a positive frame of mind," he said.