Craig Hinton finally got his hands on the winner’s trophy at the MENA Golf Tour, winning the Jo’burg City Masters, co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, with a birdie on the closing hole at Glendower Golf Club.
Starting the day a good three shots off the pace, the 27-year-old Englishman closed with a four-under 68 to finish seven-under for the tournament, two clear of a four-man group which included NJ Arnoldi and David Ashley, who both carded 66s.
A four-time runner-up on the MENA Golf Tour, Hinton eagled the par-4, seventh and birdied the next two holes to get his nose in front for the first time in the tournament. He dropped a shot on the par-5, 15th after making the turn at four under, but held his nerve for his maiden win on the MENA Golf Tour.
“It was a good yardage for the club I had. I was a little indecisive – I mean I slightly pulled it, but it was nice to have a tap-in,” said Hinton about his finish on the challenging par-four 18th.
Hinton’s brilliant approach shot on the 18th wasn’t his only special moment during the final round. An eagle-two at the par-four seventh sparked the momentum for his title run.
“It was a slow start, but the eagle on seven sort of kick-started the round. I had a couple birdies after that and it kind of gave me a chance to win the tournament,” said Hinton.
“I thought I’d get to 10 – 10 was in my head. When I got to seven early through the front nine I thought there were a lot of chances on the back nine. I looked at the scoreboard at four and no one really had made the charge. I just sort of made par coming in.”
Hinton’s approach of looking at the leaderboard throughout the round is one some golfers don’t agree with, but for him it’s a way of calming himself and knowing what he needs to do.
“I looked at every single one. Yeah, it’s good to know here you are. Walking up 18, I even asked one of the rules officials what the guys were doing behind. I think you need to know what you need to do up the last and if you can take a risk or not take a risk,” explained Hinton.
On a layout which required precision and nerve, overnight leader Siphiwe Siphayi of South Africa fell away after dropping three shots in his first five holes. He responded with a couple of birdies and an eagle (on the 15th), but kept bleeding shots along the way, eventually settling for a 74 to finish in a tie for ninth on three-under along with England’s Luke Joy, a two-time winner on the MENA Golf Tour.
The MENA Golf Tour will travel to Pretoria for the third and final event — The Roar — in South Africa this season to be held at Waterkloof Golf Club from June 22 to 24.
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