Sport - Golf - Max Rottluff
Max Rottluff winner of the UAE Challenge Image Credit: Harry Grimshaw, Gulf News

Maximilian Rottluff secured his maiden European Challenge Tour victory at the UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, the second of a two-week swing the Tour has had in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The German started the final round two shots back from the overnight leader Manuel Elvira. A day to forget for the Spaniard who shot an eight over par 80 to sldie down to a tie for 14th. Rottluff meanwhile carded a round of 70 to reach 14 under par and finish one shot clear of Road to Mallorca Number One Ugo Coussaud.

“It means everything,” he said. “I’m speechless really. There were times this winter where I wasn’t sure whether or not I would keep playing or not, but here I am.

“I saw the leaderboard on the 17th for the first time and figured it was going to be a close call.

“I had some good targets which is one of the things you need on this golf course as it always plays hard. There’s not an easy golf shot out here, but I felt confident. It’s stressful to win a golf tournament though, especially on a golf course like this.

“There’s a lot of work and a lot of people that help me behind the scenes and I’m extremely grateful for those people.”

Rottluff really put a mark on himself over moving day with a course record 63 to set himself up perfectly for the final round today.

Two bogeys in his opening eight holes wasn't the start he maybe had in mind, but bounced back with three birdies in a row. A dropped shot on 13 again was met with a birdies on the following two holes to reach the top of the leaderboard at 14 under par. Coussaud had briefly tied him there but a bogey on the par three 17th dropped him back to 13 under par, and failing to birdie the last meant a regulation par for Rotluff was enough for the UAE Challenge title.

Rottluff moves to 14th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings, this being his first event of the season. Also gives him playing rights on the Challenge Tour for the remainder of the season.

“It changes everything for me,” he said. “The last two weeks I was checking if I was in the tournament or not probably five times a day and now I know I can play in every tournament I want on the Challenge Tour.

“Now I can plan and maybe I’ll rent a bigger van for the rest of the season, so it’s phenomenal for me.

“I’m excited to get home, to see my little one and my friends.”

Scotland’s Craig Howie and Dutchman Lars van Meijel shared third spot on 12 under par.

Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutirrez finished tied fifth alongside James Allan from England on 11 under par, with Italian Matteo Manassero one shot further back in sixth.

The Road to Mallorca heads to the Netherlands for the B-NL Challenge Trophy from May 18-21 at Twentsche GC.