LINDRICK’S Bailey Gill made two stunning birdies from almost impossible positions in his last two holes to claim his maiden pro victory and deny Berkshire’s David Langley a second MENA Tour victory in 2020 at the Ghala Open, in Oman.
The former England amateur international beat roommate and Journey to Jordan No. 1 champion David Langley by one shot, in the Omani capital Muscat.
Gill, who hails from Worksop, in Nottinghamshire, like Lee Westwood – but who is a member at Lindrick Golf Club, just over the Yorkshire border – was one behind leader Scot Craig Ross on the 16th tee.
Gill finished with three birdies in a row, including spectacular chips on the 17th and 18th holes to within a couple of feet for a 16-under par finish.
Gill, who was also a member of England’s Raymond Trophy winning team in Lahinch, in September, was one shot behind the leader going into last week’s final round of the inaugural NewGiza Open, in Cairo, but finished tied 12th.
But Gill was not to be denied this week as he compiled a bogey-free round, that included five birdies in the last six holes to earn the first prize of $13,500.
The highlights were the ones on the 17th and 18th.
On the penultimate hole of the course, the left-hander pushed his drive and was faced with a difficult chip shot over the bunker with very little space to stop the ball.
On the 18th, he hit his tee shot left again and could barely see the flag from the desert area.
On both occasions, the 2016 Welsh Open Youths Strokeplay Champion hit his chips stone dead.
“This is fantastic,” said Gill. “I have been waiting for some time now for this to happen.
“It did not happen in Cairo, but I am glad I could hang on and win here in Oman,” said Gill.
“Those two were tough shots on the last two holes. I hit a horrible tee shot on the 18th hole and there was a lot of pressure when David holed his putt for a birdie on the last.
“David really played great despite the poor start he had, especially on that back nine.
“I was disappointed last week, but I came here knowing I was playing solid.
“I have been playing good golf for some time now, just struggling to get everything together and I am glad I managed to do that.”
Langley bounce back after bad start
LANGLEY, who was looking for his second win of the season, was two-over par at the turn for the day.
But the Castle Royle ace, who was a member of the same Home Internationals team as Gill at Conwy GC, in 2018, went about his back nine in seven-under to finish second on 15-under.
The overnight leader started with a double bogey, but caught fire on the back nine, where he made a 20-footer eagle putt from the fringe on the 10th after nearly driving the green.
“I am gutted, but after that finish, if I had to lose to someone, I’d rather it be Bailey,” said the 25-year-old, also playing his first full season as a professional.
“I was rooming with him last week in Cairo and I know how upset he was after the finish there – credit to him for getting it done.
“I hit a perfect tee shot on the first and made a poor swing with my second. Obviously, the adrenaline was pumping a bit.
“That double affected me on the fourth hole, which is a par-five and I could not make a birdie there.
“Being two-over after four on an easier stretch was not ideal, but I stayed patient and went on a roll on the back nine.
“A win here would have possibly got me two European Tour starts so there was that pressure.
“Good to see Bailey getting the Oman spot and I am in a nice position to get into Morocco after this.”
Bailey Gill gets into the Oman Open at nearby Al Mouj next week as the Ghala Open while the leader at the halfway stage in the Journey to Jordan Order of Merit earns a spot in the Hassan Trophee II, in Morocco, in early June.
Ross, looking for his first win on the MENA Tour, made a superb par save on the 17th.
But the EuroPro Tour winner paid the price for a wayward tee shot on the 18th to make a double bogey that dropped him down to 12-under and back into third place.
Ross collected a cheque for $6000 and moved up to sixth on the Journey to Jordan Order of Merit, after the first three events of the season.
Sam Locke – the 2017 Scottish Amateur Champion – was also in the hunt after reaching the turn in four-under. But his challenge faded as he came home in 39, making bogeys at the 12th, 14th and 16th.
•For final scores at the Ghala Open, click here.
Gupta records best-ever MENA Tour finish
INDIA’S Dubai-based amateur Arjun Gupta recorded his best finish on the MENA Tour courtesy of a bogey-free closing round of 66.
He finished in fourth on 11-under, one ahead of Northamptonshire County’s Ben Jones – the runner-up in last year’s Amateur Championship, who closed with a 66 as well.
Jones was tied fifth alongside Kent’s Alfie Plant (71), Middlesex’s Pavan Sagoo (71) and Essex’s Curtis Knipes (68) along with Ireland’s Walker Cup player Paul McBride (66).
Gupta, who turns 16 in May, showed once again why he is considered one of the brightest prospects in the region as he notched his first top-five on the MENA Tour and came to within one shot of earning his first-ever Official World Golf Ranking points.
“I am happy with my finish. The whole week my short game and my putting was very good,” said Gupta.
“I could have probably driven the ball a bit better, but I can’t complain after such a finish,” added the Dubai-born pro, who is coached by Jamie McConnell at the Claude Harmon Performance Institute.
“I want to win the Amateur Journey to Jordan this year and this is a good step in that direction.
“I also want to win a tournament on the MENA Tour and this gives me confidence that I am close,” said Gupta.
•The MENA Tour moves to Bahrain for the fourth leg of the 2020 season at the Royal Golf Club Bahrain Open from February 24-26.