Wednesday

Khalid Yousuf: The UAE's Young Gun at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Golf's young guns were big news in 2010.

Hardly a week passed without some reference to the talented young guys in their teens and twenties making their mark on professional golf.

Rory, Rickie and Ryo quickly became the poster boys for golf's 2010 youthquake.  Each came from a different continent... but each had the killer combination of charisma and cool that defines the genre.   ~ Matteo Manassero moved meteorically into the upper echelons of the young and talented, with a spectacular year in 2010.  Turning professional after an impressive T36 finish at the Masters, he won his first European Tour title and was named the European Tour's Rookie of the Year... at age seventeen.  ~ The year came to a close with Martin Kaymer winning the Race to Dubai at 25, and many wryly suggested that the Chinese "Year of the Tiger" had become the international "Year of the Young Gun".

We'll probably be seeing all of these names on leaderboards in 2011, along with those of the other young players who've appeared on the collective radar of golf fans recently... and they'll just as surely be joined by new names we haven't yet heard. ~ Because as golf grows globally, emerging golf markets have their own rising stars.  Last weekend, 22 year old Gaganjeet Bhullar became the first Indian to win on the Challenge Tour at the season-opening Gujarat Kensville Challenge, held in his homeland... while at the Sony Open saw an impressive PGA Tour debut by Jhonattan Vegas, a Venezuelan with a uniquely inspiring rags-to-riches story, who at 26 might be considered a late bloomer among young guns.

And this week Khalid Yousuf... just three months past his 21st birthday... will be in the field at the AbuDhabi HSBC Championship , representing the UAE against the game's top stars. Yousuf is the first Emirati golfer to have achieved a scratch handicap and he received a wild-card entry for this week's tournament.

Faisal al Sheikh, Events Manager of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, called Khalid Yousuf "a star for the future" ...and the prodigious player, who is studying Finance at Dubai's American University, has performed impressively in international tournaments including The Pan Arab Junior Golf Championship in Tunisia, The World Amateur Team Championship and The World Amateur Team Championship in Buenos Aires.  Come Thursday,  you can be sure there'll legions of local fans cheering on the UAE's own Young Gun.