Swedish golfer Jens Dantorp produced a stunning finish to win the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge in a dramatic sudden death play-off on Saturday to secure his place in next week’s Challenge Tour Grand Final in Oman.
Having started the final round at Al Hamra Golf Club one shot off the lead on 11-under par, Dantorp birdied the par-five 18th to finish with a four-under par round of 68, forcing a play-off with Poland’s Adrian Meronk, who had finished minutes earlier after carding a five-under 67 to set the clubhouse target on 15-under par.
The pair headed back down to the 18th tee and Swedish ace Dantorp powered his drive down the centre of the fairway before firing a spectacular approach on the 557-yard hole to within six feet of the pin.
Meronk rolled in his birdie putt but the steely Swede held his nerve to hole an eagle putt and claim the $56,000 (Dh205,670) winner’s cheque.
The win catapults Dantorp from 48th in the Race to Oman rankings to 17th, and seals his place in the Challenge Tour Grand Final, where the series’ top 45 players will battle for 15 full cards on next season’s PGA European Tour.
After receiving the trophy from Shaikh Fahim, Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation and President of the Arab Golf Federation, Dantorp, whose last victory on the Challenge Tour was at the 2013 Rolex Trophy, was delighted to be back in the winners’ circle.
“What a feeling. It’s been a few years chasing, so this feels great,” said the 28-year-old. “I set out for the course record today, but that didn’t happen. I just wanted to hit as many fairways and as many greens in regulation as I could and hope the putter was hot. It was hot enough.
“That approach in the play-off was probably one of the best shots I’ve hit in my career. I just had one shot in mind when I hit it — that was Henrik Stenson’s special shot on 18th at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai a couple of years ago. I tried to repeat that and got it pretty close.”
Dantorp’s fine finish was unlucky for Meronk, who had earlier posted an eagle on the par-five third hole and birdies at the seventh, ninth and the par-five 14th. Despite missing on out victory, Meronk’s performance rockets him from 70th in the rankings to 33rd and a place in the Oman field.
Meronk said: “I’m really pleased with my performance. I felt pretty good coming into the week and played pretty well so I’m really happy. The course was challenging and the pins were really tough. It certainly wasn’t easy.”
Haitham Mattar, chief executive officer of tournament organisers Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “The final round was a thrilling end to a hugely successful week for the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge. What a great finish. Jens’ performance, to come from behind and win with an eagle, was exceptional. To win in a play-off just highlights the high quality of golf the spectators were treated to throughout four dramatic days of play.
“With so much at stake for so many of the players the level of competition was fierce. We congratulate all the players for their efforts and commitment in helping us further grow the stature of the Ras Al Khaimah Golf Challenge.”
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