EXACTLY three years to the date after turning professional, Devon’s Harry Konig won his first title in dramatic fashion at the $100,000 Journey to Jordan Tour Championship, the season-ending event on the MENA Tour, on Thursday.
The 24-year-old from the West Country seemed out of the reckoning. Konig was three-over through eight holes at the Greg Norman-designed Ayla Golf Club,
But the former Geko Tour player – who admitted he had been considering quitting playing on the mini-Tours at the end of this sason – holed his wedge third shot for an eagle on the par-five ninth.
Konig then played the last five holes in four-under par to finish on 11-under and record a victory that should prove to be life-changing.
Konig had birdied five of the last six holes in the second round, but he saved the best for last.
On the par-four 18th which was playing straight into the wind, he hit a brilliant four-iron from 193 yards to less than a foot for his all-important birdie.
“I just can’t believe it. It’s an experience that I have never felt before, so I am lost for words,” said Konig. “I was never in touch of winning and then I had that finish.”
Konig dedicated the win to his late friend Charlie Watson, who passed away two years ago.
“I was playing so bad,” he said. “And like yesterday, I just told myself to start playing aggressive again and start going for the flags.
“It’s quite a coincidence that I played my first tournament as a professional on November 28, 2016, in Spain on the Gecko Tour.
“And it’s been three very difficult years. Professional golf is hard.
“I had spoken to my parents and was planning to give up playing competitive golf next year.
“And then this happens. I think I will continue playing.”
I am planning to play more in Europe and this gives me two starts on the European Tour and also in the Diamond Cup in Japan.
“These are great opportunities and it is now up to me to make the most out of it.”
But while the winner grabbed the opportunity dangled in front of him, others were left to reflect on missed opportunities.
Hampshire’s US-educated Joshua Grenville-Wood looked all set to secure his first win as a professional as he reached the penultimate hole at 12-under par, but finished with two straight bogeys, starting at the par-five 17th.
Grenville-Wood, who has publicly spoken about his battle with ADHD this year, then missed a par putt from less than three feet on the last to force a play-off, to add to the agony of finishing third in Bahrain earlier in the season.
Challenge Tour stars Todd Clements (67) and Jamie Rutherford (70) of England and Sweden’s Henric Sturehed (69) were already in the clubhouse at 10-under par while Grenville-Wood made it a four-way tie on 206.
•For the final results of the Jordan to Journey click here.
Hill and Keyser earn Dubai Desert Classic starts at Journey to Jordan
SOUTH Africa’s M G Keyser and Dubai-born teenager Josh Hill both had rounds to forget – but seasons to remember – as they won the Journey To Jordan Order of Merits for the professionals and amateurs respectively.
Keyser, who was in top spot going into the MENA Tour Championship, shot a 79 to finish tied 36th.
But the only two players who could have denied him the honour – Australia’s Burhill-based Daniel Gaunt (69) and Essex’s James Allan (72) – finished tied in 16th place, leaving Hill and Keyser with valuable starts in the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic, at the Emirates GC , in January.
Hill, who broke the record of Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa to become the youngest winner of an OWGR-recognised event aged just 15 last month, at the Al Ain Open, sponsored by Arena, was the overnight leader.
But the England junior international just could not get going on the final day, finishing tied ninth on five-under.
As the Tour Championship winner, Konig has won himself a start at the $750,000 Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour next month.
He also gets a spot in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for finishing second in the Final Five Order of Merit.
Keyser won the mini-MEMA money list for the last five tournaments.
He finished with total earnings of $45,153 from the season, said the Journey to Jordan win had the potential to change his future.
“I think one of the things every professional golfer looks for is consistency, and that was one of the most pleasing aspect of my season,” said Keyser, who did not miss any cut this year.
The disappointment of being unable to add a second title this year did not last long for Hill.
“I am very excited and I am looking forward to playing at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic,” said Hill.
“I have been to every tournament since I was a five- or a six-year-old and remember getting amazed by the number of people that walked with Tiger Woods’ group when I was there the first time.
“It’s been an amazing season for me, one in which I have learned a lot on the MENA Tour playing with all the professionals.
“I think I have grown as a player. I wanted to finish top-10 in at least a couple of tournaments this season, but I have surpassed my expectations.
“The win at Al Ain was definitely the highlight of the season.”
To see the final standings on the Journey to Jordan Order of Merit click here.
•The MENA Tour’s 2020 season begins with two stages of the Qualifying School, to be played January 20-23 and January 26-29, also at Jordan’s Ayla Golf Club, which proved the ultimate test again this week.