x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Jake Shepherd implodes in final round of Mena Tour title

The young Englishman says he 'tried a bit too hard' after starting last day at the top of the leaderboard.

Nothing worked for Jake Shepherd at the Mena Tour on Thursday.
Nothing worked for Jake Shepherd at the Mena Tour on Thursday.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Jake Shepherd will now know how Rory McIlroy felt.

The Englishman, 21, teed off in the final group at the Tower Links Golf Club on Wednesday knowing the second event of the Mena Tour was in his grasp.

With a five-shot lead, he could have been forgiven for already thinking of ways to spend the US$9,000 (Dh33,057) prize for the winner.

Yet he collapsed spectacularly in much the same way McIlroy did at the US Masters earlier this year. While the Irishman forfeited a four-shot lead, Shepherd went one better, signing off with a disappointing 77 to finish tied in third with compatriot Peter Richardson.

Ross Canavan took advantage of Shepherd's implosion to win the event with a birdie on the last.

"I think I tried a bit too hard to focus on my game," Shepherd said. "It was a tough day and nothing worked for me ... absolutely nothing. Maybe it's a learning curve for me. At the moment, however, it's quite painful."

Shepherd dropped shots at regular intervals to such an extent that having started the day six shots ahead of Canavan, he finished the event two shots adrift of his countryman.

McIlroy recovered remarkably to win the US Open in his next major tournament and Shepherd will hope to do the same at the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open at Al Badia Golf Course starting on Monday.

The next event on the Mena Tour will struggle to match the drama produced in Wednesday's thrilling denouement.

At one stage just one shot separated the top six, but Canavan held his nerve to clinch the title by a single shot ahead of Faycal Serghini. The experienced Moroccan led by one shot with three holes to play but he bogeyed the 16th and the 17th to squander his advantage.

Serghini did birdie the last, but it failed to prevent Canavan from registering his first professional win.

"I thought I needed an eagle to wrap up the victory and that's the reason I took time to read the putt [on the 18th]," Canavan said. "I read it right, but missed it by a whisker and tapped in for birdie."

Canavan was four shots off the pace at the turn, but hit every green on the back nine, and said he "knew I had a chance if I can shoot anything under par".

"Things worked out well," Canavan said. "I am really pleased with my work on all three days. It's an emotional moment for me."

Serghini, who closed with a 69, felt his injudicious shots on 16 and 17 cost him dear and he knew it was not going to be his day when his eagle putt on the 18th lipped out.

"This is golf," Serghini said. "One mistake here and there can spoil a good round. Anyway, I am very satisfied with golf. My driving is good, my iron play is excellent."

However, Serghini took 36 putts in the first round and 35 in the second. "Poor putting is letting me down," Serghini said. "Hopefully, things would be better when I compete in the next event."

The Moroccan contingent did, however, have some reason to cheer.

Ahmed Marjan finished as the best amateur with a two-over total of 218 while his compatriot, Mustapha El Maouas, was the third best amateur.