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Steely McGowan walks away with Citizen Open

Early birdies put me on road to win, says triumphant Englishman

Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News
Ross McGowan, winner of Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Mena Golf Tour in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Englishman Ross McGowan conjured up a piece of magic to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open, the second event on the 2012 Mena Golf Tour, at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Wednesday.

Holding his composure on a testing course, McGowan fired a solid final round of 67 to end 12 under 204, a staggering six shots ahead of second-placed Roland Steiner of Austria.

Nothing went right for overnight leader Stephen Dodd, who succumbed to the pressure, finishing fifth on five under 212, one shot behind English amateur Tyler Hogarty and Singapore’s Mitchell Slorach.

It was McGowan, who held centre-stage with an inspired all-round performance and, at one stage, flirted with the course record of 66.

The winner of the 2009 Madrid Masters picked up early birdies on the second, sixth and eighth to take the outright lead and he kept the momentum rolling into the back nine to seal an emphatic win.

“Basically, I stuck to my game plan and making those early birdies kind of put me on the road to victory,” said McGown after receiving the winner’s trophy and a cheque for $9,000 (Dh33,056) from Khalfan Al Kaabi, a board member of the Emirates Golf Federation in the company of Mohammad Juma Bu Amim, chairman of the Mena Golf Tour.

“My swing is back on track, and that’s quite satisfying. This win will definitely add to my confidence going to the US PGA Tour School next week,” said McGowan, who finished fourth in last week’s Dubai Creek Open.

“I have played this Saadiyat course about 30 to 40 times, and obviously ‘local knowledge’ helped in getting the distances right. Also, I was able to judge wind directions better,” he added.

Unlike McGowan, Dodd simply struggled. Whatever he did right was derailed once he got on the greens.

“I think I drove the ball well, but just couldn’t putt. I needed to make birdies which I didn’t and that made all the difference,” said the Welshman, a three-time winner of the European Tour, who closed with a head-scratching 77.

If the pressure exposed wrinkles in Dodd’s composure and blemishes in his game, it delivered for young English amateur Hogarty what he called a “great day” on the course.

“My aim is to play all events on the tour and try and win at least one. I came pretty close to doing that today. There is always a next time,” said the Englishman, who closed with a 70.

The third event on the Mena Golf Tour, the American Express Dirab Golf Championship, will be played from October 8 to 10.