MENA Tour

MENA Tour breakthrough a “massive confidence boost” for Allan

ABU DHABI (Oct. 9) — New Abu Dhabi Open by Arena champion James Allan en-route to victory at Las Links on Wednesday. Photo: Joy Chakravarty/MENA Tour. 

By Kent Gray
James Allan started the week celebrating a significant milestone but the party was clearly only getting started.

Two days after marking his 25th birthday with a windswept 66 around Yas Links, the English lefty claimed his maiden MENA Tour title with a runaway five-stroke victory at the Abu Dhabi Open by Arena on Sunday.

As one former amateur prodigy celebrated his pro breakthrough, another in the making continued his rise as 15-year-old Josh Hill won his second amateur title in the past three MENA Tour starts.

But this was Allan’s day. Or more accurately his week as he bookended 66s with a second-round 67 for 17 under-par, 199 total to claim the $13,500 winner’s cheque.

James Allan (left) with Francisco De Lancastre David, manager of the three Troon International Abu Dhabi clubs including Yas Links.

“By far the best birthday week I have ever had,” the Chelmsford professional said afterwards. “I have worked very hard for this and I owe my success to many people who believed in me, including my coach Ben Barham at the Robert Rock Academy.

“This is a massive confidence boost for me. I have had a couple of good rounds, but I somehow could not maintain it over three or four rounds. This is my best scores for a 54-hole tournament and it now gives me the belief that I can shoot numbers like this.”

Allan won the MENA Tour’s amateur Order of Merit (OOM) titles in 2014 and 2015 but has struggled to get over the line since entering the pay for your mortgage ranks. Thankfully Wednesday’s final round was relatively stress-free as he overcame Englishmen Robbie Busher and Harry Ellis and Swede Niclas Weiland, the latter impressively on debut, who shared third on -12.

Allan made an eagle on the par-5 7th for the second successive day but a fluffed his lines with a bogey at the ninth after failing to get up and down from a handy lie at the front of the green. Turning one-under for his round, the bogey spurred Allan into action, four successive birdie from the 10th making the closing holes less stressful.

“That bogey on the 9th really annoyed me. But when I reached the 10th tee, I had calmed down and I told myself that I was playing good golf. I made a couple of good putts on the 10th and 11th, and once I reached 16-under par after 13 holes, I just needed to play smart and not make any mistakes.”

Hill closed with a fine 66 to finish tied sixth overall at nine-under-par 20. It was the Trump Dubai teen’s best finish in just his second season on the MENA Tour, bettering the T-9 at the Ghala Open earlier this year. Hill’s other amateur triumph was a shared title with Curtis Knipes at the Troon Series – Royal Golf Bahrain Open before the circuit’s summer hiatus earlier this year.

England’s Robin ‘Tiger’ Williams (67) and Jack Floydd (68) were the next best amateurs at Yas Links on five-under-par 211. Williams has soared 28 places in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) to a career-high 72nd placing (his previous best was 75th) and retains top spot in the Journey to Jordan OOM standings with 18,918 points ahead of Englishmen Floydd (16,720), Knipes (11,922) and Hill (6,212).

After finishing T-9th at Yas Links on -8, Dubai-based South African MG Keyser has extended his lead atop the pro OOM from $5,235 to $6818 over Daniel Gaunt after the Australian missed the cut. Keyser has season earnings of $41,114 while Allan has moved up to fourth in the standings with $25, 712.

The MENA Tour takes a week-long breather before resuming at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club for The Al Ain Open by Arena from October 21-23.

Abu Dhabi Open by Arena – Selected FINAL SCORES
199 – James Allan (ENG) 66-67-66
204 – Robbie Busher (ENG) 70-69-65, Harry Ellis (ENG) 69-69-66, Niclas Weiland (SWE) 65-72-67
206 – Benjamin David (ENG) 70-67-69
207 – Josh Hill [Am-ENG] 69-72-66, Daniel Owen (ENG) 70-70-67, Clemens Prader (AUT)  71-68-68
208 – Tyler Hogarty (ENG) 72-69-67, MG Keyser (RSA) 68-70-70, Matt Killen (ENG) 68-67-73

Kent Gray

Editor of Golf Digest Middle East. Has written about golf since 1989 and owned a suspect short game even longer.

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