ABU DHABI // Ross Bain, a UAE-based Scotsman, is hoping his runaway victory in the Abu Dhabi Open at the weekend proves to be a springboard towards an elusive first victory on the Asian Tour.
Bain, 35, was close to giving up professional golf last year after more than a decade of frustration seeking eligibility on the European Tour. But he is rejuvenated after making vast improvements to his short game in recent weeks.
Having proved a class above the field of 96 players tackling the National Course on Friday and Saturday, Bain, the winner by 10 strokes, was confident about his prospects.
"There is no reason why I shouldn't get a tour title under my belt before too much longer," Bain said after his performance of 68 and 67 gave him an nine-under-par aggregate for the 36-hole event.
"I have won everything else below that level so that has to be the next goal. And it is a realistic objective, I feel. It is just a question of putting four of my best rounds together in one tournament."
The rejuvenation of Bain has resulted from his decision to dispense with the long "belly" putter and resume using a more conventional one.
"I was the second-worst putter on the Asian Tour last year with the long putter and that's never a good thing," he said. "You are not going to win much with statistics like that. I have made a major improvement in that regard and feel much better about my game as a consequence.
"I have always been a good ball striker. My problem was simply getting the ball into the hole and it was so bad that I got to the stage where I was telling myself 'enough is enough'. Fortunately my wife didn't see it that way and persuaded me to carry on."
Bain still has much improving to do, however, to carve out a decent living in his career. A failure to get among the top 60 at the Asian qualifying school last year leaves him seeking invitations to events such as this month's Omega Dubai Desert Classic to keep his schedule busy.
He felt he did not produce his best on the Majlis Course - his home club - in finishing joint-48th.
A solid second round of 69 was the highlight, lifting him to the right side of the cut mark and setting up a welcome payday of €7,775 (Dh39,275).
That financial boost came courtesy of an invitation from his sponsors, Golf in Dubai, who organise the tournament. "That has been the key to me staying on tour for as long as I have," he said. "People have stood by me and shown belief in me. I hope to be able to repay that faith one day."
The closest challenger to Bain in the Abu Dhabi Open was English professional Matthew Allan, while in the amateur section, Daniel Hendry, the promising Dubai schoolboy, enhanced his reputation by taking the gross prize.
Hendry's one-over-par total of 145 was four strokes better than that of runner-up Miki Mirzi, who in turn had a shot to spare over Joel Neale.
In the net division, an excellent first-round score of 68 helped Sun Jin Hwang to a seven-shot victory over Faris al Mazuri, with Dustin Goodman claiming third prize.