By Kent Gray
Reigning UAE PGA champion Stefan Wears-Taylor has picked up where he left off last season after claiming his fifth title on the regional circuit.
The 21-year-old South African won the 2017-18 season-opening Yas Links Pro-Am with a four-under 68 at the Abu Dhabi club on Tuesday. It followed a noteworthy four-win rookie season for the Al Zorah G.C. -attached PGA Trainee, capped by a three-stroke victory in the flagship UAE PGA Championship at the Ajman course in May.
Wears-Taylor made the most of a frustrating dress-rehearsal at Yas Links the previous week when he missed the 36-hole cut in the MENA Tour’s Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open following rounds of 77-72.
“Tuesday’s round was a nice way to start the season, especially after last week in the MENA Tour where I struggled a bit, but learnt a lot,” Wears-Taylor told Golf Digest Middle East of his two-shot victory over Luke Plump (Trump Dubai) and Austin Cahill (Yas Links). Yas Links General Manager Howie Roberts finished fourth on 71, the only other sub-par score.
“I struggled with my putting but managed to sort that out quickly on the greens at Al Zorah and the flat stick was very hot this week so I’m very pleased to see that. I just need to keep it hot throughout the season.”
Wears-Taylor started off with a birdie on his opening hole, the tricky par 4 16th at Yas but he gave it back on the even tougher par 3 17th.
“I got my bearings back in order and made two good pars on 18 and one and then on the [par 5] 2nd hole I left myself a 20ft putt after my second and rolled that one in for an eagle.”
Pars followed until the 7th where Wears-Taylor made his second birdie of the day. He started the back nine nicely too with two birdies on 10 and 11 but gave those back when a lapse of concentration led to a double bogey on 13. But his penchant for the par 5s paid off again with a two-putt birdie 14th.
“Overall I’m happy with the round but I’ll definitely be out on the lush fairways of Al Zorah to work on a few more detailed things. I’m very fortunate to have the practice facilities here at AZGC to do my drills on, couldn’t ask for better conditions to train on! “
The next event on the UAE PGA Order-of-Merit schedule is at Al Hamra G.C. next Tuesday, an event that doubles as a qualifier for the European Challenge Tour’s Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge at the RAK club from Oct. 25-28. The Dubai Creek UAE PGA Pro-Am follows Oct.16. Amateurs are invited to register here.