Peter Richardson led from start to finish to win the Shaikh Maktoum Dubai Open, the third and the penultimate event on the MENA Golf Tour, at Al Badia Golf Club on Wednesday.
Starting the day with a two-shot lead, the 27-year-old Englishman closed with a bogey-free 66 to go 16-under for the $50,000 tournament, beating his nearest challengers Lindsay Renolds and Dale Marmion by a good four shots.
Canada’s Renolds made a stunning charge, signing off with a blazing eight-under-par 64, but the best score of the Tour so far wasn’t good enough to prevent a rampaging Richards from registering his first victory in a 54-hole tournament since turning professional four years back.
Even Marmion produced something special coming down the stretch to move up the leaderboard. The Englishman made the turn at three over, but suddenly exploded on the back nine, reeling off seven birdies, including six in a row, in his closing 68.
Pakistan’s Shahid Murtaza Javed Ahmed and Faical Serghini finished tied fourth on nine-under-par 207 with the former carding a tidy 66, studded with eight birdies.
The UAE also had something to cheer about when Ahmed Al Musharrekh emerged as the leading amateur from a strong field. With rounds of 72, 71 and 74, the ace national player finished on one over par 217, a good three shots ahead of Morocco’s Mustapha El-Maouas.
The week certainly belonged to a consistent Richardson, who showed great strength of character in getting the job done in such superb fashion. Opening with a 66, he never looked back and comfortably kept up his dominance, shooting just five bogeys in his three rounds.
“I am feeling over the moon,” beamed the champion after receiving the trophy and the winner’s cheque for $9,000 from Shaikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Arab Golf Federation, and Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Golf Club, were also present at the presentation ceremony.
“It has been a great week, something I will remember for a long time to come. I didn’t get off to an aggressive start, but picked up shots in the middle of the round, which was good,” added Richardson who fired three birdies in each half.
“I think I was pretty consistent throughout the week and that was the key to winning this event,” he added. “Everything about this MENA Tour is just great. I am enjoying playing on it and I believe so is the case with every player,” he said.
Canada’s Renolds attributed his 64, a record for the MENA Golf Tour, to his crisp iron play. “I hit my approaches pretty close to the pins and that made the difference. I didn’t play that bad in my previous two rounds, but today I played much better,” said the Canadian about his bogey-free round.
England’s Marmion surprised himself with an amazing birdie run on the back nine. “My front nine which I played three over was pretty disappointing, but something clicked as the round wore on. It feels nice to finish with a string of birdies, though it was not enough to catch up with Peter (Richardson) in the end.”
Pakistan’s Shahid Murtaza was equally pleased with his day’s work. “I was three under at the start of the round, but managed to close the gap on leaders, thanks to my putting. I had eight birdies and could have another, but three-putted on the 13th, the only blemish on my card,” said the three-time winner of the Pakistan National Championship.
The season-ending Tour Championship tees off next Monday with the top 40 professionals and 15 amateurs from their respective orders of merit lining up for honours. There will be no cut in this event, which boasts a prize of $75,000.
Leading scores after the third and final round (par 72):
1 Peter Richardson (UK) -16 66 68 66
2T Lindsay Renolds (Canada) -12 70 70 64 204
2T Dale Marmion (UK) -12 68 68 68 204
4T Shahid Murtaza Javed Ahmed (Pakistan) -9 68 73 66 207
4T Faycal Serghini (Morocco) -9 70 67 70 207
6T Simon Dunn(UK) -8 71 66 71 208
6T Brian Njoroge (Kenya) -8 69 71 68 208
8 Aadil Jehangir (Pakistan) -7 68 69 72 209
9 Shafiq Masih (Pakistan) -6 71 69 70 210
10T Chris Chamberlain (UK) -5 70 67 74 211
10T Sean McNamara (US) -5 73 67 71 211
12T Trevor Marshall (New Zealand) -4 72 72 68 212
12T Jonathan Porteous (UK) -4 71 70 71 212
14 Ross Canavan (UK) -3 72 68 73 213
15T Zane Scotland (UK) -2 69 72 73 214
15T Yasin Ali (UK) -2 70 76 68 214
Shaikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the winner’s trophy to Peter Richardson in the presence of Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Arab Golf Federation, and Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Golf Club, at Al Badia Golf Club on Wednesday