ABU DHABI // Having beaten the best the Mena Tour could throw at him, Ross McGowan is now setting sights on reigniting a career stalled by serious injury.
The Dubai-based Englishman chose to compete in the first two events of this tournament to gain a competitive edge before he heads to America next week seeking a place on the US PGA Tour.
Fourth place at the Dubai Creek Open hinted his game was back in shape, and a resounding victory on Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open confirmed it.
McGowan, winner of the 2009 Madrid Masters and runner-up to Lee Westwood at the inaugural Dubai World Championship in 2009, posted a fine final round 67 to finish on 12-under-par, six shots ahead of his closest rival.
It marks a return to the winner's circle for the 30 year old, whose game has been hampered by a wrist injury sustained while playing in 2010.
McGowan aggravated the problem towards the end of last season, meaning he missed the final series of events on the European Tour and lost his card.
However, after not being able to pick up a club for almost seven months, this summer has been spent sharpening his talent. Now, following an emphatic triumph at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, McGowan will contend at the US Tour Qualifying School with the conviction to match his skill.
"If I continue improving like I have done these past four weeks there's no reason why I won't have a full US card and hopefully pick up several good results by this time next year," he said. "My swing is back on track and that's quite satisfying.
"These two tournaments set up nicely to play competitive golf, get in contention and do well. When you're in contention you really see how your game is, if you're hitting the ball well enough and putting well enough under pressure. And Tour School is more pressure than what you get in most events because it's all or nothing. So this is ideal warm-up for me and I'll travel there full of confidence."
McGowan says he is not turning his back on the European Tour, a circuit he joined in 2008.
"The European Tour's brilliant and it's what I grew up watching and enjoying, but for me, at the moment, a new challenge would be getting to America and doing well there," he said.
"And if I do, then getting invites to European Tour events shouldn't be too difficult."
McGowan's capital victory was aided by Stephen Dodd's remarkable collapse. The overnight leader quickly lost his two-stroke advantage to card a closing 77 and come home in fifth.
"I drove the ball well, but just couldn't putt," he said. "I needed to make birdies which I didn't and that made all the difference."
SAGE WORDS HELP TO SEASON AMATEUR
Some words of encouragement from a European Tour veteran helped Tyler Hogarty take the amateur title at the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Open, as the young Englishman continues his already impressive career.
The Gloucestershire-born golfer posted a final round one-under-par 71 to finish a joint-third overall, yet it was time spent alongside Stephen Dodd, 46, the three-time winner on Europe’s main circuit, that could prove just as invaluable.
Hogarty played the first two rounds at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club with the experienced Welshman, and then received some advice on how to improve his game as he attempts to gain recognition and attract some much-needed sponsorship.
“Stephen spoke to me on the range and said I’ve just got to stick to what I’m doing,” Hogarty said.
“He’s obviously been there and knows what it takes, so it was really good to hear. He told me how important it is to be able to win events when not playing your best and that’s something I can definitely use moving forward.”
Hogarty, 20, has excelled since taking up the game seven years ago, recording a victory and three runner-up finishes on various professional tours in Portugal.
“This is a great opportunity and against really good opposition,” said Hogarty, who finished tied-28th at last week’s Dubai Creek Open.
“There are at least a dozen guys who’ve got real experience at the top level so I’m really happy with my performance. My aim was to try and get in contention once over the five events and for it to happen so early is brilliant.”
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