Ross Canavan birdied the closing hole to win the Ras Al Khaimah Classic as the script took a dramatic turn on the final day of the second event on the MENA Golf Tour on Wednesday.
Starting the day a good six shots off the pace, the Englishman carded a steady three-under-par 69 to go seven under par 209 for the 54-hole tournament, beating his nearest challenger Faycal Serghini of Morocco by one shot.
The experienced Moroccan, who led by a one shot with three holes to play, had his chances to seal the victory, but he bogeyed the 16th and the 17th to squander the advantage. Serghini did birdie the last, but it wasn’t good enough to prevent Canavan from registering his first professional win since turning professional in January this year.
Young English prodigy Jake Shepherd, who led by a massive five shots going into the final round, simply collapsed under pressure, signing off with a disappointing 77 to finish tied third with compatriot Peter Richardson on five-under-par 211.
With 21-year-old Shepherd dropping shots regular intervals, it threw the tournament wide open. At one stage just one shot separated the top six, but Canavan held his nerve when it mattered most to clinch the issue in style.
“I thought I needed an eagle to wrap up the victory and that’s the reason I took time to read the putt (on the 18th). I read it right, but missed it by a whisker and tapped in for birdie. This is my first tournament win as a professional and obviously I have every reason to feel great,” said the Englishman after receiving the trophy and the winner’s cheque for $ 9,000 from Shaikh Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone.
Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Arab Golf Federation, and Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, were also present at the presentation ceremony.
Canavan admitted it was a grind all day, “but I still managed to hit all greens on the back nine, like I did in the second round. The putting too was steady. When I made the turn, I was about three to four shots off the pace and knew I had a chance if I can shoot anything under par.
“Things worked out well. I am really pleased with my work on all three days. It’s an emotional moment for me,” said Canavan, who charged back into contention after shooting a 67 in the second round.
Heartbreak and ecstasy was the story of the tournament as young Shepherd blew away a big lead. “I think tried a bit too hard to focus on my game. It was a tough day and nothing worked for me…absolutely nothing.
“May be it’s a learning curve for me. At the moment, however, it’s quite painful and I have no words to describe my feelings.”
Moroccan ace Serghini, who closed with a 69, said he could have gone the full distance. “But this is golf. One mistake here and there can spoil a good round. I dropped crucial shots on the 16th and 17th. I still had a chance, but my eagle putt on the 18th just lipped out.
“Anyway, I am very satisfied with golf. My driving is good, my iron play is excellent. Poor putting is letting me down. I had 36 putts in the first round and 35 in the second, which is not good.
“Hopefully, things would be better when I compete in the next event – the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open – at Al Badia Golf Course next Monday.”
The Moroccan contingent has more reasons cheer about when young Ahmed Marjan emerged as the best amateur with rounds of 72, 75 and 71 for a two-over total of 218. Daniel Owen of England was placed second a shot back with Mustapha El-maouas in third place at eight over 224.
Leading scores after the final round (par-72):
209 – Ross Canavan (UK) 73 67 69
210 – Faycal Serghini (Morocco) 71 70 60
211 – Peter Richardson (UK) 72 67 72; Jake Shepherd (UK) 67 67 77
212 – Lindsay Renolds (Canada) 69 72 71; Matloob Ahmed (Pakistan) 73 67 72
213 – Ross Bain (UK) 74 71 68; Yasin Ali (UK) 72 67 74
214 – Simon Dunn (UK) 73 73 68, Chris Chamberlain (UK) 72 71 71
215 – Shahid Murtaza Javed Ahmed (Pakistan) 70 73 72, Ahmed Reda Rhazali 67 72 76