Photo courtesy Emirates Golf Federation
Fisher signed for rounds of 78-70 at JGE to win the 2018 EGF OOM Championship.
By Kent Gray
At 33, Nathan Fisher is not exactly ancient in amateur golfing terms but, boy, he’s felt like it at times on the Emirates Golf Federation circuit this season.
The South African has had a front row seat as 14-year-old Josh Hill waltzed away with the EGF Order-of-Merit (OOM) title by winning seven of the tour’s 14 events and rattling off course records at Trump (65) and The Track (68) in the process. If it wasn’t Hill, it was Arjun Gupta or Toby Bishop, also both just 14 and second and third respectively in the OOM standings, highlighting the changing of the guard after 50-something Steven Kelbrick won the season-long crown last year.
Inspired by the scary new level of competition, Fisher kept toiling away – he was second to Hill at Trump – and finally had his reward Saturday when he clinched the 36-hole EGF OOM Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Unsurprisingly, the Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club +3-handicapper he had beat the young whippersnappers to triumph, edging Gupta in the second hole of sudden death in a playoff eventual bronze medallist Hill (75-74) would also have made but for a lipped out four-footer on the last hole of regulation.
“Just to come through, I’m over the moon,” said Fisher before reflecting on his competition. “I played with Arjun and Josh and I’m thinking, they’re 28 together. I’m 33…I feel so old. It’s so good to see so many young players playing now and playing well. Josh, he’s unbelievable and Arjun and Toby, I mean, my gosh, they’re the top three in the OOM and they’re all under 15.
“If I’m honest, I’ve been in the UAE for seven years now and it’s good to have that competition. They’ve given me that drive again for competitive golf.”
It certainly feels a long time ago since Fisher helped Iowa’s Indian Hills Community College to second place in the 2005 NJCAA (National Junior Community College Amateur Athletics Association) Division 1 Golf Championship. But the Durban boy rekindled some of his old magic at JGE, backing up an opening 78 with a classy two-under 70 in difficult conditions off the “DP World Tour Championship tees” on Saturday. Gupta had to get up and down on the last to make the playoff on 148 (73-75) but back-to-back bogeys on the par-5 18th in extra time gave Fisher his opening; the adidas golf rep duly closed the door with a par at the second time of asking.
The win sealed a call-up to this weekend’s Dubai Trophy, the first time Fisher has made the amateur team. He can’t wait for the Ryder Cup style matches against the UAE PGA’s finest on the Majlis at Emirates Golf Club on Saturday and Dubai Creek next Sunday.
“I’ve heard so many good things about the Dubai Trophy from amateurs and pros. People say it’s the best event to play in the UAE so I’m so excited to make the team…hopefully it will be the amateurs three years in a row,” said Fisher.
While Arjun Gupta suffered heartache in the playoff, his sister Natalii (Emirates G.C.) celebrated success in the open ladies championship, rounds of 76-78 giving her a championship total of 154 and a four stroke victory over The Els Club’s Katie Bibby (81–77). Sara Engsig (83-82) was third on 165.
Bradley Mogire won the combined junior boys and girls title with impressive rounds of 76-74 for a 150 total, two shots clear of junior OOM champion Max Cashmore (JGE, 75-77). Niklas Korjonen was third with scores of 78-77 for a 155 total.