Almulla’s back, wins his second Saudi Aramco Invitational title

Othman Almulla poses with trophy after winning the 49th Saudi Aramco Invitational Tournament.

Othman Almulla poses with trophy after winning the 49th Saudi Aramco Invitational Tournament.

Othman Almulla, the original poster boy of Saudi golf, has ended years of struggle with his game and looks ready to recapture his lofty place in the sport he so loved.

Recently, the talented Almulla celebrated his return to form by winning the Gross title in the prestigious 49th Saudi Aramco Invitational Tournament at the Rolling Hills Golf Club in Dhahran.

Almulla shot rounds of 79-77 for a total of 156 to win by one stroke over legendary Bahraini golfer Naser Yaqoob (156 77-80) in the 36-hole Championship Gross division.

Stuart Hurstfield, also of Rolling Hills Golf Club like Almulla, was third on 158 81-77. Qatar Golf Cub’s Saleh Ali took the fourth position on 162 80-82 and Jessy Perera of Riyadh Golf Courses fifth on 163 84-79.

This was Almulla’s second SAIT triumph having won in 2008 to make history as the first Saudi player to ever win the tournament for skilled amateur golfers in the country and its Gulf neighbors.

That was part of a stretch from 2007-2009 in which Almulla had enjoyed successes. He won the 2007 Red Sea and Pan Arab Amateur Golf Championship at Soma Bay Cascades Golf Club in Egypt in July and late of the same year won the Qatar Open to get an invite for the Qatar Masters, a European Tour event, in January 2008, the year when he also won the Pan Arab Championship individual title.

After placing second in the Saudi Oger Amateur Golf Championship in 2009, however, it was all downhill for the 28-year old Almulla.

Hobbled by swing issues, trying too hard and putting too much pressure on himself Othman struggled while playing full-time golf and taking time off from his studies.

All the while up-and-coming young Saudi golfers in Khaled Attieh, Faisal Salhab and Abdurahman Almansour hit the scene. Attieh, now based in the United States and enrolled in the golf program of USC Trojans as a freshman, won the 2010 Saudi Oger Amateur Golf and represented the Kingdom in the Asian Games in the same year along with Salhab, who together with Abdurahman won the GCC Championship junior crown for Saudi Arabia.

His golf getting nowhere Othman made an important decision.

“So in 2011 I decided I should go back to school and finish my bachelor’s degree, I went to the University of Houston-Downtown to pursue a Finance degree. With a full schedule of classes my golf took a back seat,” Othman told Arab News in an e-mail.

That Othman finally sorted out his swing was providential.

“In 2013 during the Pan Arab Championship in Cairo something sparked. I started with an 11 over par 83, then proceeded to play the next 3 rounds in -6 to finish 4th on +5 for the tournament. I made a decision to enjoy my golf again regardless of results. Golf is one of those sports where you can enjoy for a lifetime, and I think I got away from that during my struggles. My new mindset on the golf course is to accept whatever may come and battle through any situation that is put in front of me,” he said.

Slowly, Othman is coming to grips with the mental aspect of golf. Last Friday, the happy disposition in Almulla was palpable when Arab News caught up to him in Riyadh during the Annual SABB Open Golf Tournament at Dirab Golf & Country Club where he placed third in the First Division (0-9 handicap) on 74.

He shared: “The last few months have been really exciting, I graduated from university on May 15, got married on May 29, then started working for Saudi Aramco on June 15th of this year. I currently work as an analyst for the Contract Review and Cost Compliance Department. I think my golf game will continue to improve, I’m in a really good place right now, I’m married to an amazing woman, I have a great job that I enjoy, and a family that supports me through everything. All I can say is I continue to look forward to every tournament I play in, and my goal is to represent my country and myself in the best way possible.”

When the national duty comes knocking, Almulla stays positive. “I’m hoping I get to, I’m in really good form. It all depends on the work to be honest,” he said to a question if he’d play Pan Arab Championship which the Kingdom will host next month at Riyadh Golf Courses.

“I think we have a great chance to contend this year,” he added.

If he’ll have his way, Saudi national coach Ali Balhareth would love to have the top four players on the team namely Khaled Attieh, Othman Almulla, Faisal Salhab and Abdurahman Almansour.

Othman Almulla in action during the SAIT at Rolling Hills Golf Club in Dhahran. Looking on is Bahrain's Sultan Abdullah.

Othman Almulla in action during the SAIT at Rolling Hills Golf Club in Dhahran. Looking on is Bahrain’s Sultan Abdullah.

 
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