DUBAI // Participation in the Mena Tour requires considerable commitment even for a golfer of Stephen Dodd's standing, and the experienced Welshman feels he justified his recent dedication with victory yesterday at the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open.
Dodd, 46, a three-time winner on Europe's main circuit, finally got the job done having come close earlier this tournament, carding a three-under par 69 at Al Badia Golf Club to finish 11-under and two shots ahead of Zane Scotland and Martin LeMesurier, his nearest challengers.
Dodd, who moves to second in the Order of Merit ahead of next week's season-ending Tour Championship, started badly in his final round, but regrouped to leave the Dubai course with the trophy and a cheque for US$9,000 (Dh33,000).
When asked if the win validated his decision to play the Mena Tour, he said: "It probably has. It's always nice to win. I've had a few chances, but knew if I kept putting myself into contention that sooner or later I'd win.
"It's all about results and I got the one I wanted. There are good players on every tour now and wherever we win it's a confidence boost. We must be doing things right if we get the results."
Dodd, who started the day one shot behind the overnight leader Mohammed Munir, bogeyed the first and third holes, yet sank birdie putts late on to close out the tournament.
"Patience was key," he said. "I didn't start the way I would have liked but after the third I played some really decent stuff. It's difficult to know out there what the situation is, but you've just got to maintain your focus.
"I did that, finally made the putts and got it in the end. I'm obviously very happy."
Munir, the winner last week in Ras Al Khaimah, quickly fell away to post a disappointing 75, which opened the door for Scotland and LeMesurier, the English pair, to steal a share of second.
A 68 allowed Scotland to consolidate his Order of Merit lead, something the Dubai Creek Open champion believes he can take heart from as he prepares for the final test in Al Ain, which starts on Monday.
"Today went well, because I wasn't hitting the ball brilliantly on Tuesday and didn't expect anything," he said. "I had little thoughts creeping into my mind about where I was on the leaderboard, but I managed to banish them and keep it steady.
"I haven't gone for it as much this week and just tried to play sensibly, which worked out perfect."
As for LeMesurier, a closing 70 was still enough to finish joint runner-up and ensure his place in the Tour Championship. The top 40 professionals in the overall standings qualify, while the leading 15 amateurs will also feature.
"I'm pretty pleased with second place despite not getting the win, because I needed a good week's work as I was sitting 21st in the Order of Merit," he said. "The game's coming round and that's great for next week.
"I now need a win to get into the top three and make the Dubai Desert Classic, which is why I'm here."
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