x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Scotland in bloom in Abu Dhabi after maiden Mena Tour win

Englishman sets new course record in final round to revive an injury-plagued career.

Zane Scotland also got one win back on the second-placed Yasin Ali, having lost to him a few times in England.
Zane Scotland also got one win back on the second-placed Yasin Ali, having lost to him a few times in England.

ABU DHABI // Zane Scotland saved his best until last yesterday as he fired a course record 67 to win the Abu Dhabi Golf Citizen Trophy.

And he joked that he wasn't used to winning as he struggled to hold aloft his prize.

But the fact the Englishman could even compete at all is testament to his character as a serious car crash once left him unable to lift his head off the pillow.

Scotland, 29, produced when it mattered at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club when he fought back from being three shots behind Yasin Ali, the overnight leader, to card an eight under par total score of 298 to win by a single stroke.

He hopes by becoming the first ever winner on the Mena Tour, for which he picked up a cheque for US$9,000 (Dh33,000), will rejuvenate a career that has twice almost been ended by injury.

"All I wanted to do since I was 15 was to play golf and I hated it when that was taken away from me," Scotland said.

"I was a good amateur but then I had the crash in 2003 and there were times my neck was so sore that I couldn't get it off the pillow in the morning when I tried to get out of bed.

"So I panicked a bit because I had no idea what I was going to do apart from golf.

"I recovered from that and then, in 2008, after a season on the European Tour, I injured my wrist and missed a year. I have found it hard to get back since then. When I struggled, I did wonder whether it was the injury or if it was me just not playing well.

"I'm a pretty positive person and I know there are people worse off than me. But I had some frustrating times."

Scotland was, in his own words, coasting along yesterday behind Ali who seemed to spend almost the entire day at eight under and top of the leader board.

A birdie on the 14th, then an eagle on the next hole really got Scotland's day going and he drew level with the Dubai-based Englishman, who he knows well from their amateur days.

He walked off the 18th with a share of the lead and then word came to him at the club house that Ali had bogeyed the last 10 minutes later.

"I just tried to stay calm down the final few holes and would have taken a play-off," Scotland said. "I know Yasin well and he did me more often than not in England, so this was my turn today.

"I was thinking of hitting a few balls in case we had to play some extra holes, but to be honest I was shattered, and I just went for a rest. It's fantastic to win.

"I won on the EuroPro Tour [a satellite European tour] last year, which was held in Crewe in the UK, so this is a bit more glamorous."

Scotland cannot play next week in Ras Al Khaimah because he had already entered the EuroPro Tour Championship's final event in Mallorca, Spain.

He will return for the Dubai leg, however, and then for the final competition in Al Ain. "The top three pros will win a place in the Dubai Desert Classic and that is worth coming to the Mena Tour on its own because that is as good as golf gets," he said.

"That would be the aim now, so I hope my good form in Dubai, where I've played a lot of golf, continues because what I have right now is a great feeling."

Morocco's Younes El Hassani birdied the last to finish third on five-under 211.

"I should have finished better, but then this is golf, you have to be very consistent all days if you aim to seal a victory. I played good, but not good enough to win," said El Hassani, who closed with a 71.