JUANMA Fuentes Perez carded a four-under-par 66 yesterday to take the lead in the 55th Bahrain Open at Awali Golf Club.
Perez hit a splendid back nine 30, which included a rare eagle on the 18th hole, to end the first day on a high note. He had earlier played a 36 over the front nine holes.
Perez, who is Bahrain national team coach, enjoys a slim one-stroke lead over his very own protégé Sultan Al Hakam, who carded a first nine 33 before heading back to the clubhouse with a 34.
Khalid Salem was third on the leaderboard, another shot behind with a two-under-par 68.
He began the day with a 36 on the front nine before nearly matching Perez’s back nine nine 32.
Finishing day one in fourth place was Nasser Yacoob with a one-under 69. He was the last player from the opening round to complete play under par.
Ranked fifth through seventh on even par 70s were Jamie Elson, Hamad Mubarak Al Afnan and defending champion Saleh Al Kaabi.
Former Awali Golf Club captain David Park was eighth with a one-over-par 71, tied with Khalifa Duaij Ahmed, while Nasser Al Mahasni rounded out the top 10 with a two-over-par gross of 72.
A total of 106 golfers teed off yesterday at Awali’s 6,309-yard sand course.
The 36-hole stroke-play tournament is one of the leading annual events in the Kingdom. It was the first of its kind in the Gulf – a singles competition that is open to both professional and amateur players meeting the handicap requirements.
It is the premier event of the Awali Golf Club season with the competing golfers coming from all over the world, representing various golf clubs.
Last year’s champion Al Kaabi secured the title with a four-under-par gross of 136 at the end of the two days of action.
Players are scheduled to tee off in today’s second round at 7am. The prize giving ceremony is scheduled to take place at around 5.30pm, to be followed by the closing celebrations from 6om onwards at the club house.
The champion will receive the Bahrain Open Trophy (to be retained by Awali Golf Club) and a replica of the Trophy to keep.
Prizes will be awarded to the top players with the lowest gross scores over 36 holes.
There will also be several other prizes, such as nett prizes which will be awarded for the lowest nett score over 36 holes, the lowest ntt score on day one and the lowest nett score on day two.