Credit: MENA Golf Tour
KUWAIT CITY — With thoughts of his ailing father occupying his mind, Joe Heraty kept his composure to win the inaugural Sahara Kuwait Championship, providing a fitting climax to a fantastic week of golf at the MENA Golf Tour’s inaugural event in the city on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Englishman closed with a bogey-free five-under 65 to finish at 13-under par, two clear of his compatriot Daniel Owen, who signed for a brilliant six-under 64 to climb up the leaderboard.
Chile’s Matias Calderon made the biggest move of the day, firing a brilliant 62 that matched the course record set on Monday by Heraty as he shared the leading amateur award with Brazil’s Tiago Lobo.
In a reflection on the rising standards of amateurs on the MENA Golf Tour, the South American duo joined England’s Jordan Garnish in a tie for third on 10-under.
It was young Heraty, whose father was diagnosed with brain tumor last week, who took centre-stage with a flawless round to get over the line for his maiden win on the MENA Golf Tour.
“This is for you, Dad,” an emotional Heraty said after receiving the winner’s trophy and a cheque for $9,000 from Yousef Abdulaziz Al Qatami and Wael Abdulrahman Al Welayti, both members of the Sahara Kuwait’s golf advisory committee.
“It feels just unbelievable at the moment to what I have achieved. It was a tough week, but I managed to keep my emotions in check. Made lots of birdies and didn’t hit any disastrous shot,” said the Leeds native.
England’s Owen also went bogey free, picking up two shots on the front nine and four on the back nine, his flawless round showing it’s just a matter of time before the Bahrain-based professional inscribes his name on the MENA Golf Tour trophy.
Young Lobo was equally delighted to share leading amateur award with Calderon, whose course record equaling 62 was studded with nine birdies and one bogey.
“It was a pleasure to play on this course which was set up nicely. I drove the ball well and created lots of birdie opportunities with my wedges. I may not have struck the ball that well in the final round, but managed to hole more putts which kept the round going,” added the 18-year-old Sao Paulo native who is based in Dubai.
Morocco’s Ahmed Marjan won the MENA Division for professionals on five under after carding a final round 67, beating his nearest challenger Peter Badawy of Lebanon by a good six shots while Saudi Arabia’s Khaled Attieh took the region’s leading amateur honours, one clear of his fellow countryman Othman Almulla.
“It was really fun playing in Kuwait. Finishing in red figures has certainly added to my confidence. I drove the ball well all week and holed many clutch putts,” said Marjan whose final round was highlighted by three birdies in his last four holes.
“I like the design of the course. There are good of scoring opportunities out there if you can keep the ball in play,” he added.
Elsewhere, former English cricketer Craig Kieswetter closed with a 73 despite dropping six shots, including four on the 18th, in his last five holes to finish in a tie for 33rd on level par.
The MENA Golf Tour travels to Oman next week for the Ghala Open to be held in Muscat from October 24 to 26. The event will be followed by the season-ending Tour Championship a week later.