The amateur team sealed a fifth successive triumph at the recently held Dubai Golf Trophy after coming back from two points down on the final day at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club to triumph 17-15 in the 21st edition of the event.
The amateurs, led by Steve Kelbrick, lit up the course during the front nine in the Saturday morning foursomes with the team leading 7-1 after nine holes over the Earth course. But the pros rallied back with the session finishing 5-3 to the amateur team before the pros dominated the afternoon fourballs 6-2, which included professional Captain Luke Plumb teaming up with Jackson Bell for a commanding 5&4 triumph over Barry Pavic and Gordon Munro.
With a two point lead heading into the final round it looked like the professional team would end the amateur dominance of the last four years. But the amateur team came out firing on all cylinders as they picked up 4.5 points in the opening five games with Josh Hill, Arjun Gupta, Max Burrow and Bayhaan Lakdawala all winning their matches while Toby Bishop picked up half a point after finishing all square with Louis Gaughan.
The professionals gave themselves a lifeline with Dong Lee, Purna Sharma, David Laing and Malcom Young all picking up full points but Pavic ensured the Dubai Golf Trophy would remain with the amateurs in the final match of day after defeating Michael Bolt to seal a 17-15 triumph.
Steven Kelbrick, Amateur Captain, said:
“This year’s contest was closer than last year but I think that came down to the professionals really wanting to get their hands back on the trophy after the last four years. They played well for Luke Plumb and he was great Captain to go up against and very gracious in defeat. It was great to have the opportunity to play on the Earth course this year and we played extremely well in the foursomes whereas the professionals really enjoyed the fourballs as they seemed to lean on each other a little bit more than we do.
“The character the team showed on the final day was unbelievable. It was a really hard fought contest and I was worried I was going to let the team down in the singles as my back wasn’t that great after playing 36 holes the previous day but I managed to secure a point which was great. There were three standout performances over the course of the weekend in the shape of Josh Hill, Toby Bishop and Barry Pavic, who done brilliantly in the singles. We had hopes that Barry had the nerve to be our anchorman and he proved us right with a great round of singles golf to pull the victory out of the fire in that final game
“In a year where everything get’s cancelled we have to take our hats off to Dubai Golf for keeping this tournament on the calendar and also to Pro Sports for their support. The Dubai Golf Trophy is a fantastic event and one that any amateur or professional in the region should aspire to be a part of.”
Ahmad Skaik, Amateur Vice Captain, added:
“It was a very tough week especially being the Vice Captain; you really want to make sure everyone is ready for the challenge ahead. We started off very well in the foursomes and I looked at the leaderboard after nine holes and saw we were 7-1 up and it I thought this could be a breeze. A few things changed and it ended up 5-3 to us before the professionals dominated the fourballs with a 6-2 triumph. That came as a shock!
“We headed into the final day two points behind but we always knew we could turn it around because we’ve done it before. We had a good game plan and stacked our top players at the start of the day to try and get some points on the board early on. It worked well and we obviously won 10-6 in the singles and got our hands on the trophy for the fifth year on the bounce. It was a relief for me to get half a point as I was struggling with the driver but I managed to win the 18th hole to half the match. I was really pleased with the whole team; even those that didn’t think they contributed much, it’s all about being there for the team and working together.
“It was an honour to be Steve’s Vice Captain, I see him as a mentor and he’s a very good friend of mine since we met each other around four years ago. I’ve learned a lot from him and will take that into next year where I can implement some of my own things as well. I’ve chosen Khalid Yousuf to be my Vice Captain, who also plays for the national team, so we can get the EGF involved. I think there’s a lot of pressure being the Captain but it’s very exciting and a massive honour to be the first Emirati to captain the side. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be able to call myself a winning Captain!”