KORAT (Thailand), May 10 — Lionel Weber completed a comprehensive wire-to-wire victory at the MENA Tour’s Mountain Creek Open by Golf Citizen as the anticipated charge from the chasing pack never materialised at the Seve Ballesteros-designed course on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Frenchman hardly put a foot wrong as he signed for a solid 66 to finish at 17-under for the tournament, beating his nearest rival Luke Joy of England by a staggering seven shots.
Switzerland’s Dubai-based amateur Michael Harradine closed with a level-par 72 that left him sharing a creditable third with England’s Jamie Elson and James Byrne of Scotland on six under.
On a day when lightning forced suspension of play for 60 minutes, Weber enjoyed some vintage highs, rolling in seven birdies, including four in his last six holes, against a lone bogey to stamp his authority on the tournament, becoming the second Frenchman after Edouard Espana to win a MENA Tour event.
“It was great to be able to play my A game. I had a good final round and I am really pleased to have my first win as a professional here in Thailand. It will give me a lot more confidence for the future,” said Lionel Weber after receiving the winner’s trophy from His Excellency Pasan Teparak, patron of the MENA Tour.
Harradine, a 33-year-old Swiss national team representative, was two under through 11, but a double bogey on the par-4, 15th undermined his efforts.
His tally of six-under, however, was enough to land him the best amateur title, well ahead of Thailand’s Worathon Zeng, who finished on level-par 216, as India’s Rayhan Thomas settled for third on three over after returning a final round 76.
“I struggled on the first seven holes, but things started to click thereafter and I played a bit more solid. Unfortunately, I lost a ball in the jungle on the 15th and then made a birdie on 16. Finished on level par. You are never happy when you finish the round badly, but overall it was a good week,” said Harradine.
England’s Joy, a two-time winner on the MENA Tour, made a strong finish, rattling up three birdies in his last four holes en route to a final round 69, but his late surge was not enough to threaten Weber, who was playing in his very second event on the MENA Tour after finishing tied seventh last week.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the winner of last week’s last week’s MahaSamutre Masters, racked up a solo 10th after a final-round 70 on four under, one behind his compatriot Pattaraphol Khanthacha who finished into a four-way tie for fifth.
Defending champion Wolmer Murillo carded a 71 for a share of 11th on three under while Tyler Hogarty, the winner’s the MENA Tour Championship last year, returned a 68 that saw him finish in red numbers on one under, tied for 13th.
The MENA Tour will travel to Chonburi next week for the 72-hole Pattana Golf Championship, the third and final event on the tour’s Thailand swing, from May 16-19.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.