Craig Hinton survived a compelling late fight-back from compatriot Scott Campbell to seal a tense victory at the Ascorp Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open at Yas Links, on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Englishman closed with a 69 to reach 13-under for the tournament, edging Campbell by one-shot for his second win on the MENA Golf Tour.
England’s Lee Corfield, playing in the final group alongside Hinton, occupied solo third after carding a final round 70 as Zane Scotland and his playing partner Joe Heraty shared fourth on nine under, one ahead of Spain’s Borja Cabello.
“It was a pretty enjoyable week. This golf course is just fantastic. Stuck to my game plan and didn’t miss much. And if I did it was in the right areas and that gave me good scoring opportunities,” said Hinton, who received the winner’s trophy from Giuliano Gasparini, senior manager of hospitality and leisure for Aldar Properties, and Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour.
“I think making a birdie on the 17th was crucial as it gave me a oneshot cushion standing on the 18th tee. During the whole week, I may have missed a few putts, but holed the crucial ones which was the key,” he said.
Campbell, starting the day five off the pace, made things interesting, shooting a sparkling 65 to set the clubhouse target at 12 under par.
“Played really well, but it wasn’t good enough to get over the line,” said Campbell, who made eight birdies and one bogey in his final round. “But I am very happy to finish the way I did.”
Playing in his very first event on the MENA Golf Tour, Pierre Junior Verlaar of the Netherlands wasted no time in making his presence felt, winning the leading amateur title on six-under, a good three shots ahead of Scotland’s Daniel Hendry.
“The whole week I played very well. Struck the ball beautifully and managed to keep it in play, but didn’t make many putts,” said the 18-year- old Dutch prodigy. “It was fun playing on the MENA Golf Tour and looking forward to my next event on the tour in Oman.”
Morocco’s Younes El Hassani won the MENA Division for professionals on one under after carding a final round 70, beating his nearest challenger and compatriot Ahmed Marjan by one shot while Saudi Arabia’s Othman Almulla took the region’s leading amateur honours for the fourth time in a row.
Saving his best for last, Almulla returned a brilliant 69 to reach level par for the tournament, finishing a good six shots ahead of Morocco’s Jamal Allali in his division.
“The whole UAE swing has been great for me. Played really well, but didn’t hole that many putts,” said the 30-year-old Saudi ace, who mixed four birdies with a lone bogey at the 16th.
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