Hesson prevails in play-off for Emirates Golf Club Championship

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Emirates Golf Club’s new club champion Ed Hesson (L) with captain Walid Al Attar.

Hesson shot rounds of 78 and 76 for a 154 total, which saw him tied at the top with reigning junior champion Matthew Baxter who posted two successive rounds of 77. Hesson then took the honours when he won on the second play-off hole.

Playing in the penultimate group, Hesson missed a short par putt on the 17th hole to trail by one stroke. However, he quickly re-focused and forced his way into a play-off with a birdie on the closing par-5 18th hole.

Young Baxter had a putt for birdie and for victory on the 18th which narrowly missed and raced by the hole. He then held his nerve to hole the five footer coming back to ensure a tie at the top and extra holes.

With a sudden death format over holes 17 and 18, both players made par on the first hole but Baxter missed a birdie for the second successive time on the 18th hole soon afterwards, while Hesson cut the corner to put him in position to reach home in two. A couple of putts later, he was crowned the new Club Champion following a birdie.

Conditions on day one were not conducive to good scoring with each player battling the wind and rain over the Faldo course. The trio of Baxter, Hrithik Khurana and Veneet Mohan led the way  with a score of five-over 77. EGC scratch team captain Rohit Gupta and Hesson followed one shot behind at 78, while Suvansh Arora and Paul Valkovics stayed in touch with rounds of 79 each.

The rain had cleared up for the final round on the Majlis but the swirling winds made for testing conditions. Early in the day, the leaderboard was tightly bunched with Baxter, Mohan and Hesson all taking the lead at some point.

As they turned in for the back nine, the chasing pack slowly started to slip away leaving Baxter and Hesson to battle it out over the last few holes. The nearest challengers were Kabir Nanda, Bradley Mogire and Mohan, who finished tied third on 160. It was young Nanda who took the prize following a card countback.

In the net divisions, Christian Klynge won the A Division with scores of 73 and 69 for a 142 total, which was four strokes better than Bipin Bhatia in second place with rounds of 74 and 72.

In the B Division, David Thompson (74, 73) won with a total of 147, despite tying with Dileep Kumar, who returned cards of 68 and 79, hence losing out on a countback.

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Andrew Marshall has high hopes for 2016 MENA Tour

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European Tour winner Manuel Pinero (l), MGT ambassador Carlos Balmaseda (r).

On a high after a stunning start to the 2016 MENA Golf Tour season, Andrew Marshall will be hoping to continue the good work when he tees off at the inaugural Sotogrande Masters at La Reserva Golf Club on Monday.

The 42-year-old Englishman finished tied second and first in the opening two events of the Morocco leg of the tour. While there is a long way to go in the Order of Merit race, Marshall has already set the tone by taking his earnings to $14,000 (Dh 51,500), well ahead of his fellow Englishman Zane Scotland ($9,759) who came up trumps at the season-opener in Mohammedia.

“It’s my first time on the tour and the experience has just been wonderful. It’s a great tour, especially for youngsters trying to break through and for seniors like Zane and me, it provides an opportunity to stay competitive and get better,” said Marshall, who also boasts two PGA Euro-Pro Tour wins.

The in-form Englishman will be up against a talented field packed with no less than 10 winners on the MENA Golf Tour.

Hoping to make amends for his meltdown in last week’s event in El Jadida will be Austria’s Florian Praegant who dropped five shots on the final stretch. L

eading the challenge in the MENA Division for the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation award will be Morocco’s Faycal Serhgini, who leads the region’s Order of Merit.

Marc Topiol, Sotogrande CEO, said: “The MENA Golf Tour has grown in stature and we are pleased to be part of an initiative aimed at fast-tracking the development of the game in the MENA region.”

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Andrew Marshall wins inaugural El Jadida Championship

Chrisa 31/03/2016
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Maiden MENA win: Andrew Marshall.

A cool-headed Andrew Marshall dug deep into his vast reservoir of experience to win the inaugural El Jadida Championship by HLO.

The 42-year-old Englishman closed with a level-par 72 to reach five-under for the tournament, beating overnight leader Florian Praegant of Austria by a good two shots for his third career win – and the first on the MENA Golf Tour he joined only this season after graduating from the qualifying school.

Two shots behind going into the final round, Marshall and Praegant were engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle, but the former European Tour star came through with two birdies in his last three holes.

Praegant, who boasts a second on the MENA Golf Tour, had his chances to close the deal, but he stumbled coming home, dropping five shots between 13 and 17 holes, including a double-bogey on the 16th, and that made all the difference.

“I’m really happy and ecstatic to win my first event on the MENA Golf Tour. Morocco has been very good to me,” said Marshall after receiving the winner’s trophy and a cheque for $9,000.

“Overall, I played okay, but never expected to win as I was two behind at the start of the day, but on the 16th Florian made a double-bogey and I hit close to the pin for a birdie and that three-shot swing swung the match in my favour,” added the Englishman, who finished in a tie for 48th at the 2006 Open Championship.

“For me, I am not starting my career, but for the young guys the MENA Golf Tour is a great breeding ground with so many events on their schedule.”

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