Al Ain: Stephen Dodd became the overall Mena Golf Tour champion, despite William Harrold birdying the closing hole and winning the Tour Championship at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club on Wednesday.
The 46-year-old Welshman topped the Order of Merit standings with $27,636 (Dh101,479) in earnings from five events he played on the six-event tour, ahead of Zane Scotland ($25,697) and Harrold ($20,455).
The top three in the standings will receive golden tickets to the 2013 Omega Dubai Desert Classic along with Max Williams, who emerged as the Leading Amateur on the Tour.
“I think I have achieved everything I wanted to from this tour. I have some great memories of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and it will be fun to return to a venue [Emirates Golf Club] where I finished second [to Ernie Els] in 2005,” said Dodd after receiving the trophy from Shaikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation.
Mohammad Juma Bu Amim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, and Saif Al Shamsi, a board member of the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club, were also present.
“Playing on the tour has helped build a nice momentum going into the European Tour qualifying school later this month. Actually, I was surprised to see how well the tour is run. It’s on par with any tour. I am sure with time it will grow from strength and strength.
“I played well in all the tournaments here, but today I didn’t putt that well. Anyway, it feels great finish as the number one player on the tour. That was the goal.”
The two overnight joint leaders went head to head until the penultimate 53rd hole, and just when the prospect of a play-off loomed, the Englishman held his nerve to sink a tricky 20-foot birdie putt, sealing a well-deserved victory. His win was his first since turning professional in February earlier this year.
The 24-year-old English prodigy Harrold closed with a 67 to end at an impressive 17-under, one ahead of Dodd and two off Scotland’s Duncan Stewart, who set a new course with a final round 63, matching Zane Scotland’s feat recorded earlier in the day.
Harrold said he was delighted with his work this week. “This win will always be special since it’s my first as a professional,” said the 24-year-old Englishman from Norfolk.
“Playing in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic will be just awesome. I think every player here wanted to play there. Getting a Classic spot is easily the best thing that happened to me.”Echoing similar sentiments, Max Williams said: “The Omega Dubai Desert Classic is the biggest of three [European Tour] events in the region, and you can’t put a prize on it,” said the Englishman, who topped the Order of Merit for Amateurs with 176 points, well ahead of Switzerland’s Michael Harradine (154) and compatriot Tyler Hogarty (147)
“I think the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation is doing a fantastic job by awarding a spot to an amateur,” said the Englishman, who has featured in the Qatar Masters a good three times, thanks to victories in the Qatar Amateur Championships.