SCOTLAND’S Ryan Lumsden showed just why he is considered one of the finest emerging talents in the game as he overcame a last-hole hiccup to earn his first professional win.
He claimed first prize of $13,500 after winning the Journey to Jordan No. 2 in just his third start on the MENA Tour.
Lumsden first win in an Official World Golf Ranking event was by one shot over Essex’s equally-promising Curtis Knipes.
London-based Lumsden made a double-bogey six on the tough 18th hole at the Greg Norman-designed Ayla Golf Club, on Wednesday.
But the Royal Wimbledon GC man, who went to Wellington College, near Reading, before heading to the States for four years on a golf scholarship in Chicago, had done enough to post a two-under par final round of 70.
That took his tally to eight-under for the tournament – one better than Knipes, who closed with a 68 to post seven-under.
“Don’t ask me about the 18th, but I am delighted to get the win,” said Lumsden, who had a two-shot lead to sleep on before third round.
“I felt really good about my game the whole day. Got off to a good start and was four-under through six holes.
I then made great putts that barely missed on the next two holes. On the ninth, I hit a wonderful drive and had just about 200 yards.
“But it was at the bottom of a divot and I could not risk the water on the left so had to lay up and the birdie putt lipped out.
“Went through a little bit of a rough patch on the back nine, but I was able to make some good swings after that.
“I will think back about the 18th hole and process what I did wrong there – but very happy to get the job done and hopefully, we can carry it on from here.
“There wasn’t one defining or key moment today. The par save on the 15th was great, but so was the up-and-down for birdie on the 17th. I just played solid golf throughout.”
The Northwestern University star, who will start in the AT&T Byron Nelson Classic, on the PGA Tour, in May – after winning the Byron Nelson Award while a US collegiate golfer in 2019 – was fast out of the blocks.
The Chicago university graduate made birdies on the first, fourth, fifth and sixth holes. He then missed birdie chances on the seventh, eight and ninth holes to make the turn at four-under.
That was three shots clear of Somerset’s Walker Cup player Tom Sloman who had been two behind going into the last round.
Lumsden’s first bogey of the day came from the greenside bunker on the par-three 12th hole.
And he was lucky not to get wet on the short 13th when he hooked his tee shot way off the mark.
Lumsden made a crucial par save from 20 feet on the 15th before a clutch birdie from the bunker on the penultimate hole gave him the necessary cushion to go down the 18th – with Knipes already in the clubhouse on seven-under.
Ryan Lumsden found the fairway bunker on the last – took three shots to get to the green – and three-putted for a six and the victory.
•To see the final results at Ayla Golf Club, click here.
Knipes knows his time will come
NINETEEN-year-old Knipes, who turned professional at the start of the year like Ryan Lumsden, recorded his best-ever finish on the MENA Tour.
His 68 included just one bogey, which came on the fifth when he chunked a wedge shot from the middle of the fairway.
But that was the only mistake made by the Chelmsford GC member who was MENA’S leading amateur on the Journey to Jordan Order of Merit in 2019.
“I played pretty well today,” said Knipes, who was the English Champion of Champions in 2018 – a title won by Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Sandy Lyle in the past.
Knipes, who qualifed to play in last year’s Open at Royal Portrush, added: “The conditions were very fair and I did have a number in mind for the final round.
“I wanted to get to 10-under par – so a 65. That was not to be, but I am very happy with the runner-up finish,” said Knipes, a two-time Essex Amateur Champion.
“Very happy with the way I have started as a professional. I had four top-10s in five starts and even though I felt I let go a couple of chances to win, I know my time will come. I just have to be patient.”
There was a five-way tie for the third place with Sweden’s Ake Nilsson (69) reaching six-under alongside Hertfordshire’s Jamie Rutherford (65), Gloucestershire’s Mitch Waite (68), Sloman (70) and Essex’s Benjamin David (70).
Langley earns Trophee Hassan II start
CASTLE Royle’s David Langley secured a start at the European Tour’s Trophee Hassan II by topping the Journey to Jordan money list at the halfway stage.
The winner of the first event of the season at the same Ayla Golf Club, shot a 70 in the final round to finish tied 35th on his return to Aqaba.
The winner of last week’s Bahrain Open, from Malton & Norton Golf Club, could not surmount the difference in earnings between the two rookie winners.
However, the star of the day was the 23-year-old Lumsden, who is expected to move to inside the top-1000 on the Official World Golf Rankings with his triumph.
•To see the Journey to Jordan Order of Merit, click here.