Per Barth profited from a scintillating birdie charge on the back nine to win the MENA Golf Tour’s Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open by two shots at Al Badia Golf Club on Wednesday.
Tied for the lead overnight with Scotland’s Paul Doherty and Gary King of England, the 29-year-old Swede picked up five shots coming down the stretch after making the turn at level-par, en route to a closing 67 to reach 13-under, which was good enough to script his first victory on the tour.
Doherty, who opened with course record-equaling 64, had his moments in the sun when he led by two shots with eight holes to play, but had to settle for a second after a final round 69 on 11-under, one shot ahead of King who eagled the 18th for a two-under 70.
“It feels great to win my first event of the tour, which I joined earlier this year. I did surprise myself with the way I played some very good golf shots,” said Barth after receiving the winner’s trophy and a cheque for US$9,000 from Tim Neil, director of golf at Al Badia Golf Club in the presence of Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour.
“I was a bit nervous at the start, running up a bogey at the first, but managed to calm my nerves and played steady golf thereafter. A birdie on the 17th swung it my way as it gave a one-shot advantage going into the final hole.
“I played the closing hole conservatively, knowing well a par would be enough to secure win, but ended up making a birdie which was a bonus,” said the Swede, who turned professional in 2006.
“The standard of golf on the MENA Golf Tour is very good. I think there many players who their day can win,” said Barth, the first Swede to win a MENA Golf Tour event.
Scotland’s Doherty sounded pleased with overall efforts. “Last year I finished third here, so a second now is something to be proud of. Per really played well on the back nine and certainly deserved to win,” said the Scot, who earlier this year won the Royal D’Anfa Open, his first win on the tour.
England’s King was left ruing shots that found the water. “I hit too many out there and that sunk all my hopes of winning back-to-back titles,” said the Englishman.
England’s Luke Joy finished third on seven-under with his compatriots Zane Scotland and Jake Shepherd settling for fifth and sixth on six and five under respectively.
Young Alex Wills won the amateur division on two over ahead of favourites James Allan of England and India’s Rayhan Thomas, intensifying the battle for the Order of Merit race.
Morocco’s Mehdi Saissi, who started the day at four-under, carded a 74 to take the honours in the MENA Division for the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation Award on two under, a good four shots ahead of experienced Faycal Serghini as Karim El Hali topped the region’s amateur division on four over.
The MENA Golf Tour travels to Saudi Arabia next week for the American Express Dirab Golf Championship in Riyadh, starting on Monday.
Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open results:
1.Per Barth (Sweden) 13 under
2. Paul Doherty (Scotland) 11 under
3. Gary King (England)
1. Alex Wills (England) 2 over
2. James Allan (England) 3 over
3. Karim El Hali (Morocco) 4 over
Mehdi Saissi (Morocco)
Karim El Hali (Morocco)