x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Stephen Dodd secures Order of Merit trophy despite Al Ain defeat

Welshman tops the Order of Merit and earns a place in Dubai Desert Classic even as he loses by a stroke at the Mena Tour Championship.

Stephen Dodd lost by a stroke to William Harrold, 22 years the Welshman's junior. Pawan Singh / The National
Stephen Dodd lost by a stroke to William Harrold, 22 years the Welshman's junior. Pawan Singh / The National

AL AIN // Stephen Dodd may not have concluded his Mena Tour with victory in its sixth and final event, but the former European Tour player could content himself today with the Order of Merit trophy instead.

The experienced Welshman, three times a winner on Europe's main circuit, fired a three-under par 68 during his final round at the Tour Championship to finish runner-up to William Harrold, the nascent professional, by one stroke.

However, the disappointment did not sit too long with Dodd, as the 46 year old soon found out he had topped Zane Scotland, his rankings rival and leader going into this week, in the overall standings.

Dodd's second place at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club followed last week's triumph in the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open and secured a cheque for US$9,000 (Dh33,000) to bolster his tour earnings to $27,636, ensuring he trumped Scotland by $1,939.

Scotland finished fifth for the Tour Championship having set a course record – an eight-under par 63 – in his final round.

"This is the reason I came over – to get the Order of Merit – and it's really pleasing to do that," said Dodd, whose victory in the money list sealed one of the three 2013 Omega Dubai Desert Classic spots awarded to Mena's top trio of professionals.

"It's very satisfying; I played well at times throughout the tour. The standard out here is that good I had to play well to win the title.

"The Desert Classic is that carrot we were all after.

"There's also limited places where we can play and practise now so it's great to come here and prepare for European Tour qualifying school. So it's an extremely important win."

Harrold, meanwhile, held off Dodd, 22 years his senior, thanks to a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole. The Englishman only turned professional in February, but displayed a steely nerve to card a 67 and finish 17-under.

With the win Harrold received a cheque for $13,500, propelling the Norfolk-born golfer to third in the Order of Merit.

Predictably, he could barely contain his delight.

"I can't believe it," said Harrold, who must now focus on the impending challenge of European Tour Q-School. "My mental game was really good and that's what did it for me. I kept the mind clear, even when I knew the final putt was to win.

"To make 15-under par was one of my goals, but pass that is pretty cool. My putter was the best thing this week and to get the victory, and the Desert Classic, is just awesome. I'm that excited that I'm already thinking of what caddie to bring."

As for Scotland, finishing runner-up for the season did not cause too much frustration, as the Englishman sought solace in a performance that produced last month's victory at the Dubai Creek Open.

"I'm really pleased to have won a title and got the invite to the Desert Classic," Scotland said. "The one downside is being beaten into second overall, but if someone had offered me the chance to be contesting the Order of Merit in the final event I would've bitten their hand off.

"It's been a pretty successful tour and gives me something to aim to be better for next time. There's still more work to be done."


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