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'Qualifying King' Shinkwin wins Omega Dubai Desert Classic Shootout with a burst of late birdies

January 21, 2019
Callum Shinkwin (3rd from left), Victor Rui and Marc Warren receive their Omega Dubai Desert Classic invites from Lee Westwood in the presence of Greg Lawless and Paul Berger of Arena

DUBAI, January 21: You can call him the ‘King of Qualifying’.

Callum Shinkwin showed his intent of getting back to the European Tour by winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Shootout at Dubai Hills Golf Club on Monday – his second win in qualifying tournaments in two weeks.

The 25-year-old from Hertfordshire, England, birdied three consecutive holes after making a bogey on the 14th hole to shoot four-under par 68 and take the medalist honour by one shot over Frenchman Victor Rui (66) at 12-under par 132.

Three places were up for grabs for the 30th edition of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the ‘Major of the Middle East’, and another European Tour star, Scotland’s Marc Warren (69) pocketed the third invite at 10-under par 134. Warren will thus play his 13th consecutive Desert Classic.

Shinkwin, who also won the qualifier for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week at Yas Links, shot a sensational eight-under par 64 in the opening round when the wind was howling at Dubai Hills.

Conditions were much easier in Monday’s final round and Shinkwin never looked going outside the top-three position despite making a double bogey on the par-5 fifth hole, where he pushed his tee shot into the bushes and had to take an unplayable after his second shot went into further trouble.

Ahead of him, Rui had made a brilliant start, birdieing the first three holes and then adding another on the fifth. At that stage, he had already made up the three-shot deficit he had against Shinkwin at start of round.

The young Englishman had two stretches where he showed just how much he wants to be at the Majlis course later this week. He first birdied the ninth and 10th holes with putts of 15 feet to remain in touch with Riu, and then made a decisive push with birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes.

Riu, who is a regular on the European Challenge Tour, was bogey-free for his 36 holes and even though he did not make any birdie after the 11th hole today, he really did not need any more to qualify.

Warren was tied for third place at nine-under par with Germany’s Marcel Siem, but an unfortunate bogey from short range on the 17th hole gave the 37-year-old Glaswegian a one-hole advantage. He then hit two great shots into the par-4 18th hole and made his birdie putt from five feet to finish on 10-under par.

“To qualify for tournaments is great, and even better when you win them,” said Shinkwin, who missed his full European Tour card for this season by three spots after finishing 119th in the Race to Dubai last year.

“I have played the Omega Dubai Desert Classic a couple of times, but never did well there. I guess it was at the start of the season and I was not that prepared. But I have now played plenty of golf already and I am hoping to do much better this time around.

“The 64 on Sunday was the key. I was tired after Abu Dhabi but I was very focused on my golf. I played with two guys whom I did not know, so there wasn’t much talking. And then today, the greens were a bit more crusty and slower in the afternoon than yesterday early morning and it proved to be a grind. I needed a strong finish and I am glad I came out of it successfully.”

England’s Ben Evans was tied for the fourth place alongside Siem at eight-under par.

The 30th Omega Dubai Desert Classic is being played this week, with the opening round scheduled at the Majlis course of Emirates Golf Club from Thursday.