(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) With Oman set to host its first GCC U15 Golf Championship later this month, the host team is confident of making the most of the 'home advantage'.
The competition, to be organised by the Oman Golf Committee (OGC), will be played at the Ghala Valley Golf Club from April 24-26.
UAE will go into the tournament as a strong favourite, but the Omani side - comprising Rashad al Harthy, Fahad al Kitani and Fahad al Mahrouqi - is tipped to put up a solid show at the 18-hole Ghala Valley course.
A confident Rashad said on Wednesday that 'Oman held the edge as the local team'.
''I have been playing golf here since I was six years old. And at this course, I have played hundreds of times. So obviously, our team will try to capitalise on the home advantage,'' he said.
''We are preparing hard for this competition and we are confident of finishing ahead of the rest.''
The competition will feature both the gross and nett categories. A total of 15 participants from five GCC countries, Bahrain excluded, will vie for the top honours.
Equally upbeat about the challenge was Fahad al Kitani. ''We have been eagerly waiting for this competition. We have trained hard for this,'' he said. ''I am fully confident we can win this trophy.''
Fahad al Mahrouqi, meanwhile, believes UAE is going to be the team to beat. He said, ''Our preparations are going well. Most importantly, we are quite aware of our opponents' strengths. UAE is one of the strongest opponents for us. But we will try to get the better of them.''
The Oman team's coach, Marcus Casey, who is a PGA professional, is looking at the larger picture. He said, ''The key element about this tournament is that it will serve as a stepping stone for the junior golfers in their bid to make it to the senior level in the years to come.
''It's through such competitive platforms that the young golfers can learn quickly and keep on improving. I believe Oman has a good chance of finishing on top in this competition.''
Mundhir al Barwani, chairman of the OGC, said, ''These events certainly help youngsters to sharpen their skills and aim for the higher level. They need more of such tournaments, where they get to compete against golfers fr-om outside Oman.''
Barwani also announced that Omantel and Oman LNG have each provided sponsorship of RO10,000 for the ongoing OGC junior development programme and are supporting the coming tournament.
Harib al Kitani, the head of Oman LNG, said, ''This is a great opportunity for us to support golf. Honestly, we are not here to do business; supporting golf is our responsibility. In our company, we have a policy of supporting golf in the long run.''
Also present at the press meet was Ahmad al Jhdhamy, OGC vi