Young Saudi aims to become country's first pro golfer

Young Saudi aims to become country's first pro golfer

21-year-old Khaled Attieh is hoping to become Saudi Arabia's first professional golfer.

For most aspiring golfers, a green jacket at Augusta or a win at Saint Andrews would be golfing nirvana.

But for promising amateur Khaled Attieh, simply turning professional is his objective.

And if he makes the grade, the 21-year-old would be the first fully fledged professional golfer from his native Saudi Arabia.

Luke Waters reports.

For more than a decade, Khaled Attieh has been painstakingly refining his game.

A swing, putting technique, even his personal fitness is carefully scrutinised as he embarks on what he describes as his golfing dream.

"I'm, hopefully, trying to be the first professional to try and boost the game back home and try to get the young kids to join more and play more golf. That would be amazing. It's been a dream since I've been a young kid, and it's been a long journey,"

And on the esteemed fairways of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, his swing is not out of place.

Khaled Attieh, one of 78 elite golfers from around the world, is participating in the annual Australian Master of the Amateurs Championships.

With just four quality courses in his homeland of Saudi Arabia, Attieh says he sought greater opportunities overseas as a teenager.

"I think the sport is lacking over in the Middle East, not a lot of really good young talent. That's why I moved to the (United) States and played most of my golf over there, just to compete and stay competitive at a high level."

The decision has paid dividends, and success at the Australian amateur tournament is considered an indication of a bright future.

Tournament director Peter Mann says Jason Day's win in 2006 helped his transition to the professional ranks and enhanced the tournament's international credentials.

"The top players around the world treat this like a tour event, a major, like the British Open or the Masters. And that's how we attract all the top amateurs now in the world."

Mann says Khaled Attieh's professional dream is achievable because he has the game and the patience to match.

"The main thing is that he's got to believe in himself. And that's the vision, him just believing in himself. He'll take time, but he'll be a good player."

The 21-year old is already considering life after golf.

He says he hopes to provide an alternative in his homeland, which, he says, is fast becoming obsessed with the sport.

"Hopefully, have a foundation in the future, have a golf foundation with a junior program that can run throughout the country of Saudi Arabia -- and help the juniors all around the world, to be honest."




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