Johnston seals Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final spot after Kazakhstan win

Scotsman Liam Johnston emphatically sealed his spot in the season-ending Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final after picking up his second European Challenge Tour win of the season at the Kazakhstan Open presented by ERG.

The 25 year old began the final round one shot back from leader Sean Crocker and dropped a shot on his opening to fall further behind. But Johnston bounced back immediately with a birdie on the next before picking up four more shots on the front nine including a sublime eagle at the par 5 ninth to take the outright lead. One more birdie and eights pars followed on the back nine and despite a late charge from England’s Tom Murray, who ultimately finished in second place, Johnston secured a two-stroke victory Zhailjau Golf Resort.

The Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final is now only six weeks away and the top 45 players on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah Rankings will go head-to-head at Al Hamra Golf Club from Wednesday October 31 to Saturday November 3 in a bid to secure one of the 15 coveted European Tour cards available for next season.

As well as sealing his spot in Ras Al Khaimah, Johnston has all but sealed his European Tour playing privileges for next season after collecting 72,000 Road to Ras Al Khaimah points which moves him 40th to fourth in the Rankings.

“Congratulations to Liam on his second win of the season at the Kazakhstan Open,” said Simon Higginbottom, Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final Tournament Director. “To win at one the flagship events on the Challenge Tour is a fantastic achievement and one that has put Liam fourth in the Rankings and in prime position to secure a European Tour Card next season by finishing in the top 15. We look forward to welcoming him to Al Hamra Golf Club as he aims to finish the season on a high and challenge for top spot in the Rankings.”

Johnston, who won the Andalucia – Costa del Sol Match Play 9 earlier this season, came into the season without any expectations after having to rely on invites to get into events.

“I started the season with no category at all, and was just playing off invites,” he said. “That first win was huge for me in taking the step onto the Challenge Tour and it seems like this one’s going to be a huge win in taking a step onto the European Tour.

“I couldn’t even imagine this was going to happen starting this year in January with the goals that I’d set for myself.”

Murray’s magical final round 65 saw him finish in second place and pick up 49,000 Road to Ras Al Khaimah points. The Englishman jumps up from 45th to 11th in Rankings on 86,660 points for the season which secures his spot in the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.

Another significant mover in the Rankings was American Sean Crocker who finished tied for third with last week’s Bridgestone Challenge winner Tom Lewis. Crocker moves up to 32nd from 79th with 48,243 points and is now on the brink of qualification for the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final.

The Challenge Tour now travels to Mallemort, France for the Hopps Open de Provence, which will be the 24th event on the Road to Ras Al Khaimah.

With only four tournaments remaining before the Ras Al Khaimah Challenge Tour Grand Final, and significant moves made in the Rankings by the likes of Johnston and Murray, the competition is set to turn red-hot down the home-stretch with a captivating finish on the cards at Al Hamra Golf Club.

 

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