x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Kapur tops but McLeary is real winner among European Tour entrants in Dubai

At 16 under, Kapur won by four strokes, but it was McLeary’s final-week climb that was perhaps most impressive.

DUBAI // India’s Shiv Kapur won the tournament, but no one left Al Badia Golf Club yesterday in a better mood than Jamie McLeary.

Kapur won the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final, the last event on the developmental circuit’s schedule, securing one of the 15 cards next season on the European Tour. Yet Kapur, 32, is a veteran of several seasons in Europe, while McLeary staged a memorable rally this week to claim the last available card, ensuring himself a spot on the premier tour for the first time.

At 16 under, Kapur won by four strokes over McLeary and Portugal’s Jose Filipe-Lima, but it was McLeary’s final-week climb that was perhaps most impressive.

McLeary, 32, began the event 33rd on the points list and believed he needed to finish alone in second to secure the 15th and final card. After Felipe-Lima birdied the last hole to tie him in second place, it was left to the mathematicians decide his fate. McLeary, a Scotsman, secured his card by €449 (Dh2,223).

“I’m delighted,” said McLeary, who shot a three-under 69. “I knew it was going to be a tough day and I kind of knew the score I wanted and that’s what I was aiming for.

“I was able to stay patient and I made only one bogey all day, which was on the 15th – the long par 3. But it was a hole I actually tried to bogey, if that makes sense – I was just trying to keep it from going in the water.

“I’m delighted I’ve finally got on the European Tour after six or seven years. It’s been a long road, but I got there.”

Kapur started the week 20th in points, climbed to fourth and will play his eighth season in Europe.

“It was a tough week and I had to battle away and I knew today was going to be hard,” Kapur said.

“I’m very proud of myself to shoot a bogey-free round. Once I did that, the pressure was on the rest of the guys.”

The American Daniel Im and the Englishman Sam Walker, who began the week at Nos 13 and 14 in points, respectively, were bounced from the top 15.