Australian Peter Stojanovski capitalised on a dramatic meltdown from overnight leader Daniel Owen to capture the MENA Tour’s Ras Al Khaimah Classic at Tower Links.
The 22-year-old Sydneysider rattled off six back nine birdies in a final round 66 to finish -13, three shots clear of Englishmen Andrew Marshall and Jamie Elson who shared second.
Owen had started the final round with a five shot lead after back-to-back 66s but stumbled to a 10-over 82 to finish -2 in a disappointing share of 23rd.
The Englishman’s spectacular reverse – six bogeys and doubles on the par 5 13th and 18th holes – brought back memories of a similarly spectacular collapse by his fellow Englishman Jake Shepherd, who also blew a five-shot lead, incidentally in the same tournament in 2011.
Stojanovski turned professional at the 2014 Dubai Creek Open and became the first Australian to win a MENA Tour title at an event he clearly enjoys; his previous best finish was a top 6 at Tower Links in 2014.
“I am really delighted to win for the first time on the MENA Tour. I played some solid golf and really pleased to get the job done,” Stojanovski said after receiving the winner’s cheque for $7200 from Tower Links GM Simon Payne and the MENA Tour’s Trevor Varri.
“I just played my own game and didn’t think about what others were doing around me. I focused on every golf shot that I hit and that helped,”
“I started off okay, but finished strongly. My short game was quite good and I holed some nice putts when I needed to. Overall, just kind of everything fell together.
Owen’s stunning meltdown notwithstanding, idyllic conditions at Tower Links brought a raft of red-figure rounds with Marshall leading the way, his sparkling 65 moving the Englishman up from overnight tied 17th to second overall.
England’s Josh Walsh and Germany’s Georg Schultes matched Marshall’s best score of the tournament to climb up the leaderboard as Welshman Stephen Dodd, who started the day in a tie for second, settled for tied 13th on five under after a final round 74.
Walsh joined fellow Englishmen Max Williams and Stuart Archibald for a share of fourth on -9 while Schultes finished in a three-way tie for seventh a further shot adrift.
England’s Todd Clements comfortably kept up his dominance in the amateur division, carding a tidy 68 to finish on -7 to beat his nearest challenger Tiago Lobo of Brazil by five shots as Sam Hobday, who also returned a final round 68, settled for third a further shot back.
Next up on the MENA Tour is a three-event Thailand swing that gets under way with the MahaSamutr Masters, sponsored by MahaSamutr Country Club, Hua Hin, at Banyan Golf Club on May 2.
A guaranteed spot in the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, await the MENA Tour’s leading performers, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.