MANAMA (BAHRAIN): Robin Roussel did not have his best golf in the final round, but he managed to battle hard and hang on and also take advantage of his rival’s mistakes to win the Troon Series – Royal Golf Bahrain Open on Wednesday.
At the Royal Golf Club in Manama, the Frenchman made a bogey on his final hole but a one-over 73 round was good enough for a one-shot victory at 12-under par total.
England’s Joshua Grenville-Wood made a stunning par after hitting his tee shot into the water but paid a heavy price of three-putting the 16th hole for a bogey, which gave Roussel the leeway. He finished tied for second place at 11-under par 205 alongside compatriot James Allan (68), who made four birdies over his back nine to move up the leaderboard.
In the Amateur’s category, Dubai-based 14-year-old Josh Hill shot a one-under par 71 despite being under the weather and tied with Curtis Knipes (69) for the Leading Amateur at three-under par 213. Another Dubai-based player, India’s Arkesh Bhatia (71) was third at two-under par total.
Roussel, who opened with rounds of 65 and 66 and rarely struggled on the demanding golf course, courted trouble several times during his final round. He started with an early double bogey on the second hole and even though birdies on the fourth, ninth and 12th got him back to red numbers, he had to knuckle down and make a courageous par on the par-5 13th and then made a bogey on the par-5 14th – two holes that he birdied in the second round.
Grenville-Wood started with a three-putt bogey from the fringe on the opening hole, but played solid golf thereafter and kept chipping at Roussel’s lead until his second three-putt bogey of the day on the 16th. He had pulled to within one shot, but the mistake on the closing stretch gave his opponent some breathing space.
It turned out that Roussel needed that advantage of two shots. On the 18th hole, Grenville-Wood pushed his tee shot into the water, and then went on to make a superb par from there. On the other hand, Roussel made a bogey and scraped through by one shot.
“I am delighted that I have won. It is a great way to start the year for me, but the round also kind of brought me back to earth,” said the 25-year-old Parisian, who plays on the European Challenge Tour and recorded his first win as a professional in a recognized Tour event.
“I thought I was playing some good golf over these past few weeks and I had that feeling this morning on the range as well. But the moment I faced pressure, I made several mistakes. I did not make the putts I should have made and I did not hit the ball well.”
Grenville-Wood was delighted with his effort.
“I think I played great. I am ecstatic. I did not expect this at all. Going into the week, I just wanted to make the cut and play some good golf,” said the 20-year-old from south London.
“The bogey on the 16th will hurt because it was such a short putt and I have putted well all week. But if you ask me which was the key hole, I’d think it was the second where I made a big par save after a bogey in the opening hole. That just got me going.”
Allan, winner of the Amateur Order of Merit in 2014 and 2015, secured his best finish as a professional on the MENA Tour. He parred every single hole from one to nine, before birdies on the 10th, 12th, 13th and 16th holes.
“I am surprised not many players made a move because the conditions were quite calm in the morning and good for scoring,” said Allan, who qualified for the Challenge Tour after turning pro in 2016 but lost his card.
“After the front nine, I just tried to push myself a bit more because I thought I needed to make a few birdies or else I’d lose ground. I started playing a bit more aggressively and started hitting clubs to get all way to the flags. It helped.”
The tournament brings an end to the Spring Season of the 2019 MENA Tour calendar. The Tour will return for the Autum Season in the last week of September.
The Royal Golf Club is home to Bahrain's only 18-hole championship standard golf course and to a par 3 9-hole course, both designed by course architect and golfing legend Colin Montgomerie. The Club is managed by Troon, the leader in upscale golf course management, development and marketing, and was named Troon's 2013 Facility of the Year, the company's top accolade.
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.