MG Keyser survived a shaky start and a late wobble to complete a tense victory in the Dubai Creek Open on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old South African, two in front overnight, closed with a level-par 71 to finish on 13-under for the tournament, beating his nearest rivals, Dubai-based Rayhan Thomas, and England’s Todd Clements of England — both amateurs — by two shots for his maiden win on the MENA Tour.
Keyser, who is now based in Dubai, made a bogey-double bogey start, but showed steely resilience, picking up three shots in his next four holes to regain the lead. Just when he appeared to be cruising home, Keyser double-bogeyed the 17th after smashing his drive into the Dubai Creek, but he kept his calm under pressure.
Standing on the final hole with a one-shot lead, he managed a solid par four as Thomas was unable to recreate the brilliance of his second-round 61, studded with world record-equalling nine birdies in a row, and three-putted from 15 yards to settle for tied second.
“It feels great to get the job done. I am really enjoying my golf for the last six months or so. Just keep working hard on my game and just keep smiling is what I strive to do,” said Keyser after receiving the winner’s trophy from MENA Tour patron Darren Clarke, who himself featured in the field.
“It was some battle out there after that nightmarish start, but I played well in the middle and kept it going, though Rayhan, who is a good friend, did put some pressure.
“After that double-bogey (on the 17th), I hit a good drive on the final hole and managed to make par which, in the end, proved enough to see off Rayhan,” Keyser added, who won his first professional title in an Asian Development Tour event in Malaysia last year.
Thomas felt he had his chances to become the first amateur to retain his title, but made too many mistakes out there. “Missing at least three close range birdie putts, especially a four-footer on the 15th, cost me dearly. MG is probably the best player I have ever played with on the MENA Tour. He thoroughly deserved to win,” said the 17-year- old, who matched Keyser’s course record of a 61 in the second round.
Playing in the company of Clarke, young Clements shot a bogey-free 66 to move into a tie for second with Thomas in a reflection of the rising standards of amateurs on the MENA Tour.
The 2011 Open champion Clarke carded a final round 74 to settle for a share of 16th on two-under while Fredrik From of Sweden and India’s Abhishek Jha were tied for fourth on seven-under, one ahead of a five-man ground, which included Hamza Amin of Pakistan.
The MENA Tour next travels to the Els Club for the GOLF CITIZEN Classic, starting on Monday.
— MENA Tour (@theMENATour) September 13, 2017
Darren Clarke described young Rayhan Thomas “a huge talent” after the MENA Tour prodigy fired a magical 10-under 61 highlighted by world record-equalling nine birdies in a row in a stunning display of golf in the second round of the Dubai Creek Open on Tuesday.
That incredible run of birdies, starting from the second, ignited his challenge of winning back-to-back titles as he ended the penultimate day at 11-under, just two shots behind MG Keyser, who followed his record-breaking 61 with a 68 to keep his nose in front.
England’s Robert Harrhy occupied solo third on nine under, a good three shots clear of Peter Stojanovski of Australia and Todd Clements of England as 2016 European Ryder Cup captain Clarke moved into a four-way tie for sixth on five-under after a second-round 69.
Supremely accurate off the tee and clinical with the putter, Thomas hardly put a foot a wrong on his home course as he strung together a dream round to match the world record for most consecutive birdies in an Official World Golf Ranking event made by American Mark Calcavecchia at the 2009 RBC Canadian Open.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger also fired nine consecutive birdies in the second round of the 2017 Maybank Championship in Malaysia, but it was not recognized as preferred lies were in force at Saujana Golf and Country.
Thomas’ flawless round, which also equalled the Dubai Creek course record set 24 hours ago by Keyser, had a special ring to it as it was achieved in the company of none other than 2011 Open champion Clarke, who is also the MENA Tour patron.
“Rayhan is a huge talent, obviously. He played beautifully, hit the ball very close and putted nicely. The way he was playing, this is the worse he could have shot,” said Clarke. “He was very calm and composed and read the greens very well, which I couldn’t!
“Rayhan’s game is trending in the right direction and I think he has a great future of ahead of him. I wish him the very best,” said the Northern Irishman.
Thomas, 17, attributed his brilliant effort to what he called smart golf. “I don’t think it was my best round ever, probably one of the best. I just wanted to avoid silly mistakes and make as many birdies as I could.
“My target was to shoot six or seven under, but when I started holing putts, I knew it’s going to be my day. Score-wise, it was. I am really happy with 10-under. I think I played very smart golf out there,” said Thomas, who will be featuring in the Presidents Cup later this month.
“It’s good to get a good round under my belt and get my rhythm going. It shows I have what it takes to go low. Hopefully, it’s going to be a good memory to fall back on,” said Thomas who had his chances to break 60, but narrowly missed mid-range birdies putts on the last two holes.
— Joy Chakravarty (@TheJoyofGolf) September 12, 2017
Meanwhile, South African Keyser, who is based in Dubai, mixed four birdies with a lone bogey on the 17th to stay in stay in prime position for a breakthrough win on the MENA Tour.
Elsewhere, England’s Zane Scotland, a two-time winner of the Dubai Creek Open, was forced to withdraw to due to a bad back as the 36-hole cut was made at three-over-par 145 with 44 professionals and 11 amateurs making it to the final round.
The summer is now upon us but you can still fine-tune your golf skills or learn the tricks of the game by taking advantage of Abu Dhabi City Golf Club’s (ADCGC) promotions.
Whatever your experience, there is something for everyone with a range of activities on offer from Thursday, June 1 to September 14.
Their special deals include nine-hole play at Dh99 from 05:30 to 14:00 on weekdays, or Dh170 from 14:10 to 21:00, while if you want to play the 18 holes, then it’s double the price. For those who want to play on weekends, then nine holes cost Dh170, while 18 holes is Dh340.
For those who have never played the game or want to enhance their skills, then there are various golf lessons available.
For just Dh99, you can enjoy a 30-minute introductory lesson, while a two-hour session costs Dh499 (which includes a pool pass).
If you want a five-hour class, you can do exactly that for Dh999, which includes a playing lesson, flightscope session as well as a nine-hole green fee voucher that can be used on Sundays or Mondays.
Academy memberships for one and three months, starting from Dh499 as well as Golf Memberships (peak and off-peak), are also available.
It’s not the first time that ADCGC have had these promotions during this time of the year and following its success in the previous years, their head PGA professional Steve Johns insists 2017 will be no different.
“These promotions have been carefully chosen for what we believe is good value for money,” he said. “We have been doing these summer promotions for many years and it’s been a big hit with many people taking advantage of the offers, whether it’s through a single lesson or golf membership.
“Although there are a lot of people who do go overseas for their holidays, there’s still a majority who stay in the UAE. Golf is a perfect pastime sport to take up as they will have a lot of time on their hands.”
He added: “We have upgraded our floodlights last summer and now playing golf in the night is better than ever before. Although it’s a bit humid in the evening, it’s definitely more pleasant than playing in the daytime.
“Besides the golf deals, we also have some fantastic facilities such as the swimming pool and gym, plus there’ll be certain food and beverage promotions.”
WHAT: Abu Dhabi City Golf Club Summer Promotions
WHERE: Abu Dhabi City Golf Club
WHEN: June 1 to September 14
CONTACT: For more information, visit www.adcitygolf.ae