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Doha: Saleh Al Kaabi had a taste of life as a star sportsman when the 18-year-old amateur golfer spent Monday morning being interviewed by Qatar TV for a preview programme about this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Al Kaabi is one of two Qatari golfers, along with Ghanim Al Kuwari, competing in the prestigious European Tour event, which beings today at Doha Golf Club.
The big-hitting teenager was interviewed extensively by presenter Haneen Al Naqdi for the upcoming episode of ‘Darb Al Madina’, which airs on Qatar TV today at 10.00pm.
Al Kaabi was interviewed by Al Naqdi in a car and on the grounds of the golf club, where he also gave the TV host her first golf lesson on the practice green. The popular ‘Darb Al Madina’ programme previews upcoming events in Qatar and this week’s episode will focus on the $2.5m golf event, which features star players Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen, the World Numbers Four and Five respectively, American World Number 11 Jason Dufner and four-time Major champion Ernie Els.
A graduate of Aspire Sports Academy, Al Kaabi is in the first year of a sports science degree at Qatar University, while training almost every day with hopes of becoming a full-time professional golfer. 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.
Mike Elliot, the Qatar National Team coach, thinks his star student has a chance of finishing in the top half of the 126-player field after the second round tomorrow and so qualify for the final two rounds on Friday and Saturday.
“I do actually think he could make the cut this week,” Elliott said. “He trains on this course, so knows it well. A while ago he was shooting regularly in the mid to high 70s, but now he’s regularly shooting 67 and 68 on this course. Obviously it’s different on the course set up for the European Tour, but we have high hopes for him.”
The American, who has formerly coached in the US and Germany, believes Al Kaabi has the skillset to make it as a touring golfer in the future.
“He hits the ball extremely long, well over 300 yards regularly,” Elliot said. “He’s up there in distance with anyone. 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 Kaabi will tee off at 12.25pm today with playing partners James Busby of England and Peter Erofejeff of Finland. Paul Lawrie (1999, 2012), who is defending his title this week, and Adam Scott (2002, 2008) are the only two-time winners of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, while other champions include multiple Major winners Ernie Els.