Pierre Junior Verlaar conjured a piece of magic on the front nine to win the MENA Tour’s Royal Golf Mohammedia Open in style at Royal Golf D’Anfa Club.
Starting the final day three shots off the pace, the 18-year-old Dutch prodigy blistered the outward nine with six birdies en route to a bogey-free 65 to reach nine-under for the tournament, beating Morocco’s Ahmed Marjan and England’s Andrew Marshall by two shots.
With this convincing victory, Verlaar became the second amateur after India’s Dubai-based Rayhan Thomas to win a MENA Golf Tour event. His closing 65 also matched the lowest final round by a winner, tying England’s Joe Heraty’s round at the 2016 Sahara Kuwait Championship.
“I am really very, very happy with the way I finished against a strong field. I think I played some amazing golf on the front nine,” said Verlaar after receiving the winner’s trophy from Fouad Akasbi, president of Royal Golf D’Anfa and Vice President of the Royal Moroccan Golf Federation.
— MENA Tour (@MENAGolfTour) March 21, 2017
Reda Bennis, director general of the Royal Moroccan Golf Federation, Warchan Ali of Royal Golf D’Anfa, Majid Bennis of HLO and Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Tour, were also present.
“I may not have picked up a shot on the back nine, but played very steady. The MENA Tour is doing a great job in providing a perfect platform for amateurs likes me to compete alongside professionals which is great,” said Verlaar, who joined the tour last year.
Experienced Marshall, who started the final round a good five shots behind, matched Verlaar’s closing 65 to surge up the leaderboard as Marjan, the only Arab winner on the MENA Tour, topped the MENA Division, one shot ahead of his compatriot Mohamed Belaroussia.
Overnight leader Lee Corfield of England slipped to tied eighth on four under after carding a final round 73 while Zane Scotland, a 10-time winner on the tour, moved into a six-way tie for 43rd after closing with a 75 along with Danny Poulter, the elder brother of European Ryder Cup hero Ian.
— Arkesh Bhatia (@ArkeshBhatia) March 21, 2017
Elsewhere, former England cricketer Craig Kieswetter settled for 52nd on 10 over after signing for a 77 as Craig Hinton, the winner of the 2016 MENA Tour Order of Merit title, settled for tied 50th on seven over, six shots ahead of India’s Rayhan Thomas, who carded a final round 79.
The next event on the MENA Tour schedule is the Ras Al Khaimah Classic to be held at Tower Links Golf Club from April 24 to 26.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
Multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy and the Maybank Championship Malaysia in addition to full playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Asian Tour Q-School for the leading three professionals are some of the added incentives for the MENA Golf Tour members.