Starting the day two shots off the pace, the Frenchman closed with a bogey-free 69 to reach six-under 213 for the tournament, beating his nearest challenger and overnight leader Ross McGowan by a good three shots with Italy’s Alessandro Tadini and Germany’s Sebastian Heisele sharing third on a two-under 217.
The 24-year-old from Bordeaux, playing in his first MENA Golf Tour event, picked up three birdies on the front nine and one on the 11th to set up his fourth career win since turning professional last year.
“I played really well, much better than I did in the last two days. And my putting was spot on,” said the 24-year-old Frenchman after receiving the winner’s trophy and a cheque for $9,000 from Mustapha Zine of the Royal Morocco Golf Federation. Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, and Abdulrehman Buftas, president of the Royal Golf of Dar Es Salam Club were also present.
“Ross also played well, but he found trouble on the 14th and 15th and ended up making bogeys there and that turned the match in my favour as I managed to par those holes,” said Espana, who thanked his coach Olivier Leglise for all his support.
The MENA Golf Tour, he said, has the potential to grow bigger in years to come. “There are lots of quality players who love to compete on the tour,” said the Frenchman.
England’s McGowan also felt he played well, but didn’t hole that many putts. “My tee-to-green was fine and I gave myself many chances, but just couldn’t manage to hole clutch putts. Also, I hit a couple of loose drives and that didn’t help the cause,” said the Englishman who closed with a 74.
“Edouard made two big birdies, one each on 7th and 11th, making very long putts and that, in end, made all the difference,” said McGowan, the winner of the MENA Golf Tour’s Abu Dhabi GOLF CITIZEN Open in 2012.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Tadini had his chances to catch up with the leaders, but dropped shots on the 13th and 17th to settle for a tied third. “I enjoyed playing my first tournament on the MENA Golf Tour. It was a great experience since the field was pretty strong,” said the former European Tour player.
“My putting was just unbelievable and, at one stage, I was four-under, but didn’t play all that well between the 13th and 18th hole,” he said.
Defending champion Zane Scotland and experienced Stephen Dodd of Wales took a share of the seventh on a two-over 221 while the English duo of Yasin Ali and James Housby were tied for fifth on a level-par 219.
England’s James Yeomans won the amateur division with rounds of 78, 74 and 72, reaching five over for the tournament, two shots ahead of Morocco’s Ayoub Lguirati.
Promising Lguirati, however, won the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation Award, which recognizes the top-three amateur and professional performances from the region.
Pic caption: Edouard Espana receiving the winner’s trophy from Mustapha Zine of the Royal Moroccan Golf Federation as Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour, and Abdulrehman Buftas, president of the Royal Golf of Dar Es Salam Club, look on