DUBAI (UAE): A sudden hailstorm managed to cool down the temperature on the golf course, but it had a complete opposite effect on MG Keyser. The South African was seven-under par for his last seven holes after the brief delay and stormed to a two-shot lead going into the final day of the Troon Series – Dubai Open presented by Turkish Airlines following a record-breaking round of 11-under par 61 round.
The big-hitting Keyser is no stranger to low scores and probably did not take kindly to his record of the lowest-ever round on the MENA Tour (a 10-under par 61 at the 2017 Dubai Creek Open that he shared with India’s Rayhan Thomas) being matched on Tuesday by Antoine Schwartz.
The 11-under par 61 on Wednesday broke the one-day-old course record at Dubai Hills Golf Club set by Schwartz and is now the lowest score ever in the eight-year history of the MENA Tour.
Keyser, a Dubai resident for the past four years and attached to Jumeirah Golf Estates, moved to 15-under par 129 for 36 holes. He is two ahead of England’s Matthew Baldwin (63) and Frenchman Antoine Schwartz (69) at 13-under par 131.
The trio has left the rest of the field in their wake, with England’s Ryan Evans (65) next best at nine-under par.
In the Amateur category, England’s Ben Davies (68) was one ahead of compatriot Jack Floydd (70) at five-under par 139. Dubai-based 14-year-old Josh Hill also shot a 68 and was at three-under par.
Keyser, who is coached by Zane Scotland, the most successful player in the MENA Tour history, was five-under par through his first seven holes but felt he had wasted an opportunity to score low when he could not take advantage of the par-5 eighth hole with his phenomenal length off the tee and wound up making a bogey after blocking his drive into the water.
“I made a silly bogey there and was really annoyed with it. I thought there goes my chances of a low score. We then had the brief rain delay and I just went back and played really well,” said the 32-year-old who lost in a playoff earlier this season at the Troon Series – Al Zorah Open.
“I am going through some swing changes with Zane and it is difficult to trust them when it gets windy like it has been the last few tournaments. But after that rain, the conditions were just perfect and I was able to score coming in.”
The 32-year-old Baldwin, who lost his European Tour card last year, was slightly disappointed in the end as he missed a two-footer birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“It’s been a good day and I played nicely. My game is in a nice place. I drove it well, hit it close and made some putts that I needed to,” said the man from Southport who made four consecutive birdies from the eighth hole, and then after a breather on the 12th, made three more in succession.
“It just feels strange missing that birdie putt on the 18th. You should never complain about shooting a 63, but it does feel a bit frustrating right now to have missed that. It was just a lapse of concentration towards the end.”
The 29-year-old Schwartz shot a stunning 10-under par round in high winds at Dubai Hills Golf Club on Tuesday, and even though the playing conditions were a lot more sedate in the morning, Schwartz could make just four birdies as against a three-putt bogey on his opening hole.
“I am happy with 69. It is always tough to follow up a low round with another, but I had chances to do better. I played well but had a few distance issues with my irons, so I had longer putts for birdies compared to yesterday,” said the Parisian who has won three times on the Pro Golf Tour.
“The three-putt bogey on the first was surprising because I did not think the green was that fast. But I burned the edges many times after that and the good thing was that I made four birdies and did not make another bogey in the next 17 holes.”
The cut was applied at one-under par 143 and 52 professionals made it to Thursday’s final round.
As part of MENA Tour’s commitment to enhance the playing opportunity for its members, the champion this week gets an invite to the Slovakia Challenge (July 4-7), on European Challenge Tour.
The par-72 Dubai Hills Golf Club is the latest addition to the growing portfolio of golf courses in Dubai. Situated in the Dubai Hills estate with breathtaking views of Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai, the course is designed by European Golf Design and managed by Emaar Hospitality.
The MENA Tour by Arena is returning to the world schedule after a year of restructuring and will feature 10 tournaments in 2019. It will continue to provide Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, thus making it a perfect pathway for ambitious young professional to the bigger tours, and for the players from the region to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.