Gary King receiving the winner’s trophy from Khalfan Al Kaabi, chairman of the Ascorp Holdings Image Credit: Courtesy: Mena

Abu Dhabi: Gary King birdied the first extra hole to win the Mena Golf Tour’s Ascorp Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Wednesday.

Three shots in front overnight, the Englishman closed with a level-par 72 to force a play-off with his compatriot and playing partner James Allan, who shot a 69, on nine-under par, thanks to a monstrous putt he holed for birdie from 35 yards on the closing hole.

Both players hit the green in regulation time at the first extra hole, with Allan settling for par, while King held his nerve to hole his birdie putt from 10 yards to claim his first win on the tour in four appearances.

“I kept my composure and never allowed the situation to get the better of me and that was the key,” said a delighted King after receiving the winner’s trophy and a cheque for $9,000 (Dh33,000) from Khalfan Al Kaabi, chairman of Ascorp Holdings.

Mohammad Juma Bu Amim, chairman of the Mena Golf Tour, Mark Chapleski, senior vice-president of Troon Golf, and Scott McCaw, director of club operations, were also present.

England’s King, who trailed by two shots at one stage, felt it was his birdie on the 15th that hauled him back into contention and kept the momentum going thereafter.

King, who earlier this season won two events on the Euro Pro Tour, said: “I hit my five-wood from 240 yards and holed the ensuring short putt which was crucial. Standing on the 18th tee, I was one shot behind, but got a bit lucky when I holed that long putt.

“I think James really played very well, and it’s just a matter of time before he starts winning on the tour. He such a hot prospect.”

Allan added. “To be honest, Gary played brilliantly, especially on the back nine, holing so many great putts, and certainly deserved to win. I am really happy with myself that way I played under pressure. It’s really a shame that I just couldn’t get over the line. I birdied the 17th to take one-shot lead going into the 72nd hole, but there is nothing much I could do as Gary held a long putt to take extend the play.”

“It was a great learning curve today and, hopefully, I will able to win very soon,” continued the 20-year-old prodigy from Chelmsford, who topped the amateur division, well ahead of India’s Rayham Thomas.

Earlier, England’s Jake Shepherd, who the Dubai Creek Open last week, had made things interesting, taking a two-shot lead at the turn, but three bogeys on the back nine prevented him from making it two wins in a row.

Morocco’s Ahmad Marjane carded a 73 to top the Mena Division for the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation on two-under, three shots ahead of Faycal Serghini and five clear of Amine Joudar.

Elsewhere, defending champion Luke Joy of England signed with a 68 to finish in a tie for 13th on two-under, while Zane Scotland, a nine-time winner on the tour, settled for tied 22nd on one over.

The Mena Golf Tour travels to Al Badia Golf Club in Dubai on Monday for the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open.