May 19, 2022
The Englishman has been handed an unlikely shot at glory after a dramatic penultimate day in Phuket
By Kent Gray
David Hague needed three great rounds of golf and a lot of help from his friends to stand a chance of winning the MENA Tour title in the fiscal equivalent of a photo finish in Phuket this week. So far, so good, although not if you are pals Tom Sloman or David Langley.
The penultimate day of the '2020+ Journey to Jordan' season, all 836 days of it so far thanks to the pandemic, produced what seemed unimaginable drama only 24 hours earlier.
Both Sloman, the current moneylist leader, and second-placed Langley, went from on the cut line bubble at -2 starting the second round to out of $75,000 Blue Canyon Open with rounds of 73 and 77 respectively on Thursday.
It left Hague (pictured) the only player still in with a shout of winning the J2J title and with it an invite to one of the Asian Tour's upcoming $1.5 million-plus International Series events.
It is still going to take some real Friday fireworks for the 25-year-old from Malton & Norton Golf Club to pip Sloman for the crown.
Having started the final event $3696 behind his fellow Englishman, Hague knew he'd have to finish at least fourth to have any chance. That hasn't changed although with Sloman and Langley walking away with nothing but frustration to show from the final event of the Beautiful Thailand Swing (BTS), at least Haugue’s fate is in his own hands entering the final day of the longest season.
After rounds of 69-70, he'll start the final round at -5, six strokes behind co-leaders Dodge Kemmer (USA) and Vanchai Luangnitikul (Thailand).
It is likely to take a score in the low 60s to sneak into the top four but at least he has that chance.
"I’ve had good final rounds in the last couple of years which have won me tournaments or got me close to winning and that’s exactly what I’ll be looking for tomorrow,” said Hague who won the Royal Golf Club Bahrain Open in February with a closing 71.
Hague came into the final event having missed the two previous cuts and with just $378.75, minus tax, to show for a T-48 finish at swing-opening Laguna Phuket Challenge.
Frustratingly, there was more post-pandemic rustiness from his putter on Thursday which will make his final round mountain tougher to climb.
"Today was very good tee to green, I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole. I had three three-putts which let me down, it’s always a momentum stopper just when I kinda got on a bit of a run,” he said.
"To be honest I was trying to get a couple of shots better by today to give me a good chance of a top-three tomorrow really. I need a top three and Tom and David to kinda falter a little bit. It’s an outside chance but time will tell.”
As it turns outs a solo top-four finish will do the trick, something Sloman is only to well aware of after missing the cut by one.
“Yeah I am a littler bit [disappointed] but it is what it is isn’t it,” said Sloman. “Hopefully I hang on but if Dave [Hague] has a good round, good on him, yeah.”
Langley, who finished +3, wasn’t as philosophical in the immediate aftermath of his 77, a round which spiralled out of control after he started feeling unwell early on his inward nine.
“I couldn’t see, I felt like someone had punched me and I was drunk,” he said of a back-nine eventually negotiated in 41 strokes, five-over.
"It wasn’t great and then I chugged a bunch of water on 12 and I felt okay-ish on the last three holes but I was still all over the gaff."
Perhaps still in disbelief, Langley wondered if he had been the victim of dehydration in the steamy Phuket conditions.
"That was the only thing it could be but then I wasn’t massively dehydrated either. That is it, it’s over if I’ve missed the cut.
IMAGE: Jason Butler/BGBImages.com