Barker birdies last to win Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open after an intense final round

Kyle Barker showed his flair for the dramatic as he survived a compelling fight-back from rising English amateur Todd Dodd to win the MENA Tour’s Golf Citizen Abu Dhabi Open at Yas Links, Abu Dhabi.

Starting the final round a good four shots in front, the 19-year-old South African closed with a 68, highlighted by a hole-in-one on the fourth, to reach 14-under for the tournament, beating Dodd, who carded the day’s best score of a 66, by two shots for his maiden victory since turning professional last year.

England’s Jamie Elson returned a final round 68 to finish third on nine under, one clear of compatriot Christopher Cannon who signed for a flawless 67 as Darren Clarke, the MENA Tour patron, settled for tied 26th on level-par after a final round 73.

“I am really so happy. Words can’t really express it. Feeling a proud South African at the moment, proud because the last two events on the MENA Tour were also won by a South African (MG Keyser). So, this win is a bit special too,” said Barker after receiving the winner’s trophy from Howie Roberts, general manager of Yas Links, Abu Dhabi.

“Certainly, it’s week I won’t forget in a hurry, though it wasn’t easy in the end. I think making a hole in one and holing a 50-footer for birdie on the 17th swung the issue in my favour,” he said.

“When Todd birdied the 13th, 15th and 16th, I needed do something special and hitting my three-wood approach on the final hole to within four feet did the trick,” added the South African, who was playing the event on a special MENA Tour invitation.

England’s Clements, who won English Amateur Championship at The Berkshire in August earlier this year, had his chances, but as he said: “Kyle played brilliantly all week and deserved to win.

“I tried to be patient out there and stuck to my game plan. Of course, I am a bit disappointed on missing out on victory, but the good thing is that I’m able to take a lot of confidence out of today, a lot of positives,” said the 21-year-old Englishman who birdied the ninth to produce a four-shot swing after Barker ran up a triple bogey there, but a bogey on the last blew his chances.

Elsewhere, Scotland’s Paul Doherty carded back-to-back 67s to join Germany’s Georg Schultes in a tie for fifth on seven under, one ahead of Wales’ Toby Hunt as England’s Zane Scotland took a share of eighth on five under after a final round 70.

The MENA Tour will now travel to Jordan for the first time for the Jordan’s AYLA Golf Championship to be held from October 5 to 7.

An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA 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.

A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.

Leading scores after the final round:

Professionals:

Kyle Barker 14-under (66 68 68)

Jamie Elson (England) nine-under (70 69 68)

Christopher Cannon (England) eight-under (70 71 67)

 

Amateurs:

Todd Clements (England) 12-under (68 70 66)

Arkesh Bhatia (India) level-par (77 70 69)

Taylor Carter (England) level-par (71 71 74)

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