ABU DHABI, October 9: James Allan, twice Amateur Order of Merit champion on the MENA Tour, finally secured a dream title with a crushing five-shot win in the Abu Dhabi Open by Arena.
At Yas Links Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Allan backed his previous rounds of 66 and 67 with a second six-under par 66 effort of the week to tally 17-under par 199 at the Kyle Phillips-designed layout. That round included a sensational run of four straight birdies after the turn, which made it a much easier walk down the tough closing stretch.
Sweden’s Niclas Weiland, a MENA Tour by Arena debutant, showed remarkable composure playing in the final group with Allan to shoot a five-under par 67, which earned him a tied second place at 12-under par 204 with the England duo of Robbie Busher (65) and Harry Ellis (66).
On the amateur leaderboard, Dubai-based 15-year-old Josh Hill (66) surged up the leaderboard to finish tied sixth at nine-under par 207 – his best finish on the MENA Tour by Arena bettering the T-9 at the Ghala Open earlier this year. Robin ‘Tiger’ William (67) and Jack Floydd (68) were the next best amateurs at five-under par 211.
“By far the best birthday week I have ever had,” said the man from Chelmsford, who turned 25 on Monday. “I have worked very hard for this and I owe my success to many people who believed in me, including my coach Ben Barham at the Robert Rock Academy.
“This is a massive confidence boost for me. I have had a couple of good rounds, but I somehow could not maintain it over three or four rounds. This is my best scores for a 54-hole tournament and it now gives me the belief that I can shoot numbers like this.”
Allan made an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole for the second successive day, but missed a simple up-and-down from the front of the green on the ninth hole to make the turn at one-under par. He then went on a tear with four straight birdies and produced a grandstand finish with another on the 18th.
“That bogey on the ninth really annoyed me. But when I reached the 10th tee, I had calmed down and I told myself that I was playing good golf. I made a couple of good putts on the 10th and 11th, and once I reached 16-under par after 13 holes, I just needed to play smart and not make any mistakes.”
Busher was delighted with his 65, especially as he had played very few tournaments in the run-up to the MENA Tour after sitting out for four months in the summer when he dislocated his knee while trying to hit a drive.
“I got off to a great start with a birdie, and then holed out from the bunker for an eagle on the second hole. I then kept hitting the ball well,” said the Englishman, who matched his career-best finish on a recognized Tour (earlier T-2 in the 2015 Cobra Puma Open on EuroPro Tour).
“This is big for me, considering that I haven’t played much golf in the past few months. I am slightly wary of using the driver, but it behaved very well today.”
The next tournament on the MENA Tour schedule is The Al Ain Open by Arena, to be played at the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club from October 19-23.