Spain’s Lucas Vacarisas produced a storming finish to win the medalist honour as 30 players secured their cards for the 2019 season of the MENA Tour by Arena.
At the Greg Norman-designed Ayla Golf Club, the 21-year-old from Barcelona entered the final round of the A Stage of Q School trailing leader Tom Shadbolt by one shot, but two early birdies saw him edge ahead of the Englishman.
Alps Tour member Vacarisas then proceeded to make a hat-trick of bogeys from the eighth hole onwards to slip back before charging home in spectacular fashion, picking up shots on each of his final four holes.
He thus finished on three-under par 69 for a three-day total of nine-under 207, three better than runners-up Alastair Kinnaird (72) of England and Sweden’s Gustaf Kocken (70).
Shadbolt, also a member of the Alps Tour, did not have the best final round and could make just one birdie against a double bogey on the last and two previous bogeys for a 75. He finished fifth at four-under par.
At the end of the 54-hole qualifier, the top 30 players earned their cards to take part in the 10-tournament ‘Journey to Jordan’. This included four amateurs, led by England’s Curtis Knipes and Alex Talbot, who were tied seventh at even-par 216.
With three players tied for 29th place, a playoff was needed to find out the two players who secured their cards. England’s Mark James, Pakistan’s Ahmad Baig and Sweden’s William Nygard were the ones left in the battle.
Baig birdied the first hole to take his card while Nygard three-putted from 15 feet for par to give James an unexpected lifeline. The Swede then hit his drive left into the desert on the second playoff hole and James took adavntage to win his MENA Tour card with a steady par.
James said: “I thought after my second shot on the first playoff hole, I was finished. I hit a good bunker shot to give myself a chance but got lucky that William three-putted. Then I had to take my chance and I hit a good drive to put myself in position.
“I’m relieved really. I didn’t play my best this week but grinded it out. I can't wait to get started for the year on the MENA Tour now.”
The first tournament of the MENA Tour by Arena will also be played at the Ayla Golf Club from February 8-11 after Stage B of the Qualifying School.