By Kent Gray
Don’t be surprised if Craig Ross is right in the thick of things down the stretch at this week’s MENA Tour stop.
The 26-year-old Scot is trending nicely leading into the $75,000 Troon Series – Dubai Open presented by Turkish Airlines starting Tuesday with top-10s in the circuit’s three proceeding events.
Ross tied 10th in the season-opening Journey to Jordan-1 in Aqaba, followed it up with a share of 4th at the Al Zorah Open in Ajman and went one better at Ghala Golf Club in Oman last week.
“I have been hitting the ball well and putting well. I am just going to go into this week hoping for more of the same and [see if I can] win this event,” said Ross, who recorded his first win as a professional at last year’s Clipper Logistics Championship on the EuroPro Tour.
“I have given myself good chances the last couple of weeks but haven’t been able to get over the line. I will do the same things again and hopefully have a chance again on the final day. We will then see what happens after that.”
Ross actually led by three shots going into the back nine at Al Zorah before a double bogey on the 12th stalled his progress before further dropped shots on the 14th and 15th snuffed out his challenge.
At Ghala, the big-hitting Scot closed with 65 and 66 but had left himself with too much to do after an opening 72.
“Last week, Nick [Marsh] was just fantastic. But I had a great opportunity at Al Zorah. When I look back at it, it was just one bad swing that cost me a double. I know that I can pull off that shot and will probably do the same if I were in a similar situation again. I was still leading, but my short game let me down over the next couple of holes.”
Ross expects the scoring to be low at Dubai Hills, providing the wind doesn’t kick up.
“It was quite windy when we played the pro-am, and I have been told we can expect similar wind every day,” he said.
“Coming from Scotland, I don’t mind the wind. I don’t hit the ball that low, but I love playing in the wind. The fairways are wide, so you can smash your driver, which suits me. The bunkers are placed strategically, but as I said, the greens are challenging. You need to hit your approach shots with some thought.”
This week’s champion will cash $13,500, three Official World Ranking Points and an invite to the Challenge Tour’s Slovakia Challenge (July 4-7).
PROFESSIONAL ORDER OF MERIT
(After Ghala Golf Club Open in Muscat, Oman)
POS NAME EARNINGS (US$)
1. Matthew Baldwin (ENG) 18,000.00
2. Daniel Gaunt (AUS) 17,725.00
3. Nick Marsh (ENG) 14,006.00
4. Erik Jonasson (SWE) 12,600.00
5. Robin Roussel (FRA) 10,510.00
AMATEUR ORDER OF MERIT
POS NAME POINTS
1. Curtis Knipes (ENG) 4,442.00
2. Josh Hill (ENG) 2,775.00
3. Jack Floydd (ENG) 2,712.00
4. Rayhan Thomas (IND) 1,800.00
5. Arjun Gupta (IND) 1,425.00