South African recovered from a dropping three shots in the opening two holes to win the Mena Tour tournament by two shots.
Keyser holds his nerve to see off Thomas challenge and win Dubai Creek Open
MG Keyser survived a shaky start and a late wobble to claim victory in the Dubai Creek Open on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old South African, two in front overnight, closed with a level-par 71 to finish on 13-under par, beating his nearest rival Rayhan Thomas of India by two shots for his first win on the Mena Tour.
Keyser, who is based in Dubai, made a bogey-double bogey start, but showed his resilience, picking up three shots in his next four holes to regain the lead.
- Watch: Darren Clarke expects Rory McIlroy to 'come out firing' in 2018 once his injuries are given time to heal
- 'A good thing for the region': Organisers hail European Tour schedule change to have Abu Dhabi and Dubai back-to-back
Just when he appeared to be cruising home, Keyser double-bogeyed the 17th after hitting his drive into the Dubai Creek. Standing on the final hole with a one-shot lead, he managed a par four as Thomas was unable to recreate his second-round 61, which was highlighted by a world record-equalling nine birdies in a row, and three-putted from 15 yards to settle for tied second.
Keyser, who received his winners’ trophy from Mena Tour patron Darren Clarke, who also competed in the event, said he felt the result was a reward for his good form of late.
“It feels great to get the job done,” he said. “I am really enjoying my golf for the last six months or so. Just keep working hard on my game and just keep smiling is what I strive to do.
“It was some battle out there after that nightmarish start, but I played well in the middle and kept it going, though Rayhan, who is a good friend, did put some pressure.”
Keyser, who won his first professional title in an Asian Development Tour event in Malaysia last year, added: “After that double-bogey [on the 17th], I hit a good drive on the final hole and managed to make par which, in the end, proved enough to see off Rayhan.”
Thomas said he had his chances to become the first amateur to retain his title, but made too many mistakes during the final round to take advantage of the wobbles that came from Keyser.
“Missing at least three close range birdie putts, especially a four-footer on the 15th, cost me dearly,” Thomas, 17, said. “MG is probably the best player I have ever played with on the MENA Tour. He thoroughly deserved to win.”
Playing in the company of Clarke, Englishman Todd Clements shot a bogey-free 66 to move into a tie for second with Thomas.
Clarke, the 2011 British Open champion, carded a final round 74 to settle for a share of 16th on two-under while Fredrik From of Sweden and India’s Abhishek Jha were tied for fourth on seven-under, one ahead of a group of five, which included Hamza Amin of Pakistan.
The Mena Tour stays in Dubai as it travels to the Els Club for the Golf Citizen Classic, starting on Monday.