08 Mar 2020

Sixteen year old Bishop shoots course record in Saadiyat Men’s Open triumph

After a host of events were cancelled in the region due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak, the competitors in the 2020 Saadiyat Men’s Open were relieved that the tournament went ahead over the weekend and none more so than 16 year old Toby Bishop who prevailed against some of the best male golfers in the region to break the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club course record with a sensational 10-under-par 62 en-route to victory on Saturday. 

 The Welsh born Dubai resident was delighted with his personal best tournament golf score of 14-under having preceded his record breaking second round with a 4-under 68 on day one.

“The funniest thing is that the wind wasn’t as strong on the first day when I shot the 4-under, it picked up the most on the second day when I shot the course record, you’d have thought the conditions were vice versa if you had seen my scoring,” the teenager told Worldwide Golf’s Jordan Smith.

Bishop has recently worked hard with his coach, Jamie McConnell at The Els Club, as well as dialling in a positive mentality which has given him the confidence to go out and believe he’s going to make birdie on every hole. “My game recently has been in a really good place, the long game is in good shape I’m hitting the ball really well,” said Bishop, who had Callaway’s new Mavrik driver in the bag for the first time and only missed one fairway all weekend. “I’ve also been spending a lot of time on the short game area which has been key to improving my scoring, I was out there attacking pins and everything just seemed to click.”

Ahmad Skaik proved to be the main rival for the title. The Emirati started the final round five shots back but made up for four shots over his first four holes, putting the pressure on Bishop, who rose to the challenge.

“I made a par down the first, then canned a long eagle put on the second,” he said, “seeing the other guys play well fired me up to play my best.”

 “Every single putt, whether it was 40-foot or a small putt, I just felt like it was going to go in. It was one of those days where everything fell into place – my tee shots were hit down the right side of the fairways, my approach play was good, getting it as close to the flag as possible, and, luckily, my putter was red hot all day.”

Despite posting a record breaking round on day two, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Bishop on the tricked-up Gary Player-designed ocean course. The par three 12th hole was playing into the wind and a bad judge of club left him a long tricky downhill putt over two tiers of green, resulting his only bogey of the day.

“It didn’t affect me though – I went on to birdie the next two holes so I managed to save it,” he said. “With the mind set I’m in and the shape of my game, even after making a bogey it didn’t faze me, whereas before I could have got into a rut from there.”

The new course record holder has lived in Dubai for 10 years and is surrounded by other rising local talents such as Josh Hill and Arjun Gupta who refer to themselves as ‘Team Pure’. Hill has received a lot of press attention recently but Bishop insists there is no jealousy between the three. Rather, they feed off each other’s success while being as supportive as possible.

Toby Bishop

“Josh has had some great success over the past few months and last year,” he said, “but we never get jealous of each other – we use it to motivate each other to hopefully get ourselves in the same position next year.”

Having several talented young prospects in the region to drive him on, as well as some of the best practice facilities in the world on his doorstep, means Bishop believes he has a distinct advantage over his team mates back in Wales whom he plays alongside in the Wales Golf High Performance Squad.   “The facilities in Dubai are amazing, practicing at The Els Club and playing courses like Trump International Golf Club Dubai – the fantastic opportunities we have living in Dubai, I probably wouldn’t have had living in the U.K. so I’m very lucky and fortunate to be living here.”

The next chapter for this exciting Dubai-grown talent will be seeking out potential U.S. college golf opportunities later on this year. Performances like the one in the Saadiyat Men’s Open will do his chances of catching the eye of the people who matter in the best American universities no harm at all and from there, Bishop has it all planned out:

“After college, I want to get onto the PGA Tour, try win all the Majors and become World No.1!”

Confident words indeed from an extremely self-assured and talented player. But if you want to reach the top, the first step is believing that you can get there, and Bishop has bags of belief. As he showed during his record-breaking win at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, he’s also got plenty of game.

Follow Bishop’s progress on his Instagram page: @welsh_golfer

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