Kuwait City: Robert MacIntyre held off a spirited challenge from England’s Luke Joy to land his first Mena Tour title at the Sahara Kuwait Golf Championship, on Wednesday.
Playing in his very second event as a professional, the 21-year-old Scotsman closed with a tidy five-under 65 to reach 14-under for the tournament, beating Joy by two shots, the victory underlining his smooth transition into the paid ranks.
One behind at the start, MacIntyre caught fire on the back nine, picking up three birdies in a row after the making the turn at two-under as his challengers eventually faded, one after another. Perennial contender Joy mixed four birdies with a bogey in his final round 67 that left the two-time Mena Tour winner alone in second place on 12-under for the second week in a row and sixth overall.
A shot further back was a four-man group consisting of overnight leader Stuart Archibald, Max Smith, Joshua White, all from England, and Scotland’s Daniel Hendry, one clear of the English duo of Adam Sagar and Jordan Garnish. It was MacIntyre, who showed maturity beyond his years to dominate the second edition of the event in Kuwait, making him the 12th first-time winner this season in a reflection of winds of change blowing at the Mena Tour.
“I couldn’t have thought a better way to finish. Absolutely delighted with my efforts, a memorable week for me, indeed,” said the Scotsman after receiving the winner’s trophy from Yousuf Abdul Aziz Al Qatami and Wael Abdul Rahman Al Welayti, both members of the Sahara Kuwait’s golf advisory committee.
“It’s a nice golf course with narrow fairways. You needed to be accurate off the tee and I drove the ball well all week, creating some good scoring opportunities. I holed putts when I needed to and that was the key to my success,” said MacIntyre, who became the fourth Scotsman after Paul Doherty, Clarke Lutton and David Law to win a Mena Tour event.
England’s Todd Clements comfortably kept up his prime form to win the amateur division for the fifth time in-a-row on five-under 205, a good two shots ahead of Switzerland’s Dubai-based prodigy Michael Harradine, a stunning achievement virtually assuring him of the Order of Merit title.
Meanwhile, defending champion Joe Heraty produced a birdie-birdie finish to move into a four-way tie for 30th on level-par along with fellow Englishman Zane Scotland, a 10-time winner on the tour.
Elsewhere, Morocco’s Yassine Touhami finished a tie for 18th on three-under 207 after carding a final round 70, a good four strokes ahead of fellow countryman Ahmad Marjan as Saudi Arabia’s Othman Al Mulla settled for tied 48 after closing with a 73.
The Mena Tour will travel to Ajman for the first time for the $100,000 (Dh367,300) Tour Championship to be held at Al Zorah Golf Club from October 23-26. Featuring an exclusive field, the season-ending event will see the top 50 professionals and the 10 leading amateurs from their respective Orders of Merit vie for the honours in the 72-hole event.
(Professionals) Robert MacIntyre (Scotland) 14-under 196 (65 66 65); Luke Joy (England) 12-under 198 (64 67 67); Max Smith (England) 11-under 199 (66 65 68); Stuart Archibald (England) 11-under (64 66 69); Joshua White (England) 11-under (66 67 66); Daniel Hendry (Scotland) 11-under (64 68 67).
(Amateurs) Todd Clements (England) five-under 205 (66 68 71); Michael Harradine (Switzerland) three-under 207 (67 70 70); Taylor Carter (England) one over 211 (70 73 68).