Khalifa Al Merisi carded a spectacular one-under-par 69 in difficult, windy conditions on the second and final day of the 58th Bahrain Open Golf Championship at the Awali Golf Club (AGC) to win the tournament for the first time yesterday with a 145 gross.
The Bahrain national team golfer had finished the first day just one stroke adrift of overnight leader Naser Yaqoob Saleh, who shot a five-over-par 75 on Friday.
Saleh carded another five-over-par 75 yesterday to total a 150 gross and finished as the runner-up, five strokes behind Al Merisi.
“I am very happy to have won the Bahrain Open for the first time,” Al Merisi, 31, who also won the Bahrain Amateur Open in 2021, told the GDN. “It was not easy, especially on Friday when high-velocity winds played havoc with every golfer’s game.
“But conditions were comparatively better on the second day, although there were still strong winds. It was still very challenging and I’m especially happy to have come from one stroke down overnight to win by a five-stroke margin!”
Bahrain national team coach Gabriel Sota carded a one-over-par 71 to go with his 14-over-par 84 on Friday to finish in joint-third position with a 155 gross along with Sultan Abdulla Al Hakam (80 + 75) with Saud Hamad Al Aathem in fifth place with a 159 gross (84 + 75).
Meanwhile, Hanne Hanson clinched the 34th Bahrain Ladies Open Golf Championship title, stroking a 13-over-par 88 yesterday to card a 190 gross and edge out overnight leader and two-time champion Sarah Hobday by just one stroke.
“I am absolutely over the moon to have won the Ladies Open for the very first time,” the 55-year-old Dane, who has been based in Bahrain since 2007, told the GDN. “This is not my home course – I play at the Royal Golf Club (RGC) – and I was playing in this tournament for the first time since 2013.
“And the weather conditions were brutal, especially on Friday with the strong winds making driving and putting extremely difficult. So, I’m very happy to have won this amazing event – especially since I had knee surgery last year which, I thought, would make playing golf difficult.
“Kudos to the AGC management for putting on a great show as always. Hopefully, we should see even more women participating in future tournaments.”
Hobday, who stroked an 18-over-par 93 yesterday, had earlier carded a 23-over-par 98 on Friday, with Hanson four strokes behind with a 27-over-par 102.
Christina Fantechi, who finished with a 32-over-par 107 on Friday, carded a 19-over-par 94 yesterday to finish in third place with a 201 gross while former AGC golf captain Susan Scott netted identical scores of 101 on both days to land in fourth place with a 202 gross.
Mary Fox finished fifth with a 210 gross, carding identical scores of 105 on both days.
This was the first time the women’s tournament was held on the same dates as the men’s championship.
Pros and amateurs from around the world were in the field of more than 100 players – men and women combined – who participated in the two competitions, organised wholly by the AGC.