x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Shepherd has learnt lesson on Mena Tour

Jake Shepherd will not let the memory of blowing a five-shot lead play on his mind when he tees off in the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open on Monday.

Jake Shepherd took some time this weekend in Dubai to 'get my head right' before the start of Monday's Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open, the third and final event on the Mena Tour.
Jake Shepherd took some time this weekend in Dubai to 'get my head right' before the start of Monday's Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open, the third and final event on the Mena Tour.

Jake Shepherd will not let the memory of blowing a five-shot lead play on his mind when he tees off in the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open on Monday.

The English golfer was comfortably in the lead going into the final round of the second Mena Tour event at Ras Al Khaimah last week when his game imploded on the Towers Links Course and he finished two shots behind the winner, Ross Canavan.

"I have to be honest and say that I didn't know how to handle it, and that cost me," said Shepherd, who eventually finished a joint third.

"In all my time in golf, be it amateur or pro, I have never had that big a final day lead, so this was a new experience. But I've learnt from that, and if I find myself in that position again, I'll know what to do."

Looking ahead to Monday's third and penultimate event on the Mena Tour, the 21-year-old Londoner has had time to analyse his errors.

"What I should have done was just act normal," said Shepherd, who is in his first year as a professional. "Instead, I spent all my time thinking about what I normally did, rather than playing my natural game. I should have kept it nice and simple

"But you have to pick yourself up, and there is another great tournament now to get into. If I got into the same lead, I wouldn't make the same mistakes."

The Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open is the final chance for players to make next week's Tour Championship at Al Ain Shooting, Golf and Equestrian Club.

The top 40 professionals and 15 amateurs from their respective Orders of Merit will qualify. From there, the top three professionals and one amateur will gain entry to the Dubai Desert Classic in December.

"Getting to the Desert Classic has always been my aim, and the thing is that I did shoot two rounds of 67, so my game is there," said Shepherd. "So, more of the same would do me, if I can forget about [last] Wednesday.

"This is my first time in Dubai and the place has blown me away. I took Friday off and then half of Saturday, just to hang out and get my head right, which I've done.

"The course is amazing. There are plenty of water hazards out there and, for me, the par threes could be the toughest holes on the course."

Shepherd turned professional in January and has been based in America, playing on the Hooters Tour, one of the lesser tours below the PGA but one which has put him on a stiff learning curve.

"To do well on that tour, you have to shoot really, really low," he said. "The guys at the top get around in 25-under par, so that gives you an example of how good the players are and how difficult it is."

 

ncameron@thenational.ae

 

@ For more GOLF visit thenational.ae/topics