The 2013 Challenge Tour season concluded in thrilling fashion at Al Badia Golf Club as Shiv Kapur stormed to victory in the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final.
The Indian shot a final round 2-under 72 to win by four strokes from Scotland’s Jamie McLeary and Portugal’s Jose Filipe-Lima with a 16-under-par total of 272.
The victory, Kapur’s second of the season, was enough to secure his place in the top 15 of the European Challenge Tour Rankings, meaning a promotion back to The European Tour where had played full time for seven seasons prior to this year.
“I’m really pleased,” said the 32 year old who shot a wonderfully consistent blemish free round that included birdies on the fifth and the 10th. “It was a tough week and I had to battle away and I knew today was going to be hard. Wil (Besseling) made a charge with a couple of birdies early on but I just had to stick to my game plan to keep mistakes off my card.
“I’m very proud of myself to shoot a bogey-free round and once I did that the pressure was on the rest of the guys so I’m extremely happy.
“I made it a little hard on myself this year not playing as many tournaments as some other players on the Challenge Tour but I backed myself and told myself that if I played well enough I would make it back on to The European Tour.
“Sometimes when you plan these things and they don’t work out it looks like a great plan so I’m pretty pleased with how it worked out. It would obviously have been nice to have less pressure coming into this week but there is no better feeling than when you win.
“I have had five or six professional wins but given the circumstances and everything leading up to the week it’s right up there with the best of them.
“I have spent seven years on The European Tour and I’ve wanted to get back there. It’s a great tour which is going from strength to strength and I cannot wait to get back. I’m really looking forward to the year.”
Scotsman McLeary needed at least a runner-up finish to scrape into top 15 on the Rankings and he was delighted to confirm his 2014 European Tour card with a final round 3-under 69 for a 12-under total.
“I’m delighted,” said McLeary. “To finish the way I did was nice. I knew it was going to be a tough day and I kind of knew the score I wanted to shoot and that’s what I was aiming for. The guys I was playing with ( Andrea Pavan and Jose Filipe Lima) had already confirmed their European Tour cards so when they started out like a train I knew I needed to finish second or tied second. I was able to stay patient and I only made one bogey all day, which was on the 15th – the long par 3. But it was a hole I actually tried to bogey if that makes sense – I was just trying to keep it from going in the water! I’m delighted I’ve finally got on The European Tour after six or seven years. It’s been a long road but I got there.”
Lima, already guaranteed a European Tour card before the tournament began, matched McLeary’s closing 69 for his eighth top 10 of the season as second place on the Rankings, while Italian Andrea Pavan’s final round 70 for an 11-under total saw him home in a share of fourth place with Welshman Rhys Davies (69) and confirmed him as 2013 European Challenge Tour Rankings Winner.
“I’m happy with how things turned out this year and I’m looking forward to next year,” said the 6ft 2in Roman. “I know my game needs to step up a little bit more to be able to compete at the next level but it’s definitely getting there. Winning the Rankings is not easy and I’ve won twice this season and come close a couple of times as well and I’m happy to finish in the top five here in Dubai as well especially after having a couple of hiccups in the last two rounds.”
Image: Andrea Pavan and Shiv Kapur together with Challenge Tour Rankings Trophy and Tournament Trophy and Jamie McLeary in action.
Photo Copyright Phil Inglis