Round Up: Solid start for on-form Craig Ross in Dubai Open

Craig Ross maintained his good run of form on the MENA Tour by signing for six birdies but was overshadowed by a stunning effort from Antoine Schwartz in the opening round of the Dubai Open presented by Turkish Airlines.

Craig Ross was pleased to open with a five-under 67 in the Duabi Open presented by Turkish Airlines. Picture: MENA Tour
Craig Ross was pleased to open with a five-under 67 in the Duabi Open presented by Turkish Airlines. Picture: MENA Tour

After posting a 67 at Dubai Hills, Ross shared the clubhouse lead with England’s Benjamin David before Frenchman Schwartz defied testing conditions to come in with a 10-under-par 62.

The 29-year-old Parisian was an incredible 11-under par through his first 12 holes, having carded nine birdies and an eagle from 30 feet on the par-5 11th.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A late bogey on the 16th hole put paid to his hopes of shooting the first-ever 59 on the third-tier circuit, but he was happy with a five-shot lead over Ross, David and Dutchman Pierre Junior Verlaar.

“It was just an unbelievable day. I hit so many good shots today. Everything was just perfect,” said Schwartz, who played on the Challenge Tour last season after topping the

2016 Pro Golf Tour Order of Merit.

Schwartz’s effort matched the lowest round to par on the MENA Tour, previously held by South Africa’s MG Keyser and India’s Rayhan Thomas (both 61 in the 2017 Dubai Creek Open).

It also matched the largest 18-hole lead, which was what Englishman Zane Scotland enjoyed at the 2013 Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open.

“Of course, you are thinking about a 59, but the last five or six holes here are tough, and even more in the windy conditions that we faced almost throughout the day,” he added. “I just tried to stay aggressive and I even gave myself a couple of chances, but it was not to be.

“I’d love to shoot 62 every day, but this one was very special because the golf course wasn’t playing easy because of the wind.”

Ross, who has finished in the top five in the last two events, birdied the fifth and sixth before dropping his only shot of day at ninth but then picked up three shots in a row from the tenth and also birdied the par-3 17th.

“I played really solid,” said the 25-year-old Kirkhill player. “The whole game was good. I putted well and also drove it probably the best I have been.

“I didn’t play particularly well in Jordan (in the opening event of the season), but I was solid and I have just kicked on from there, shooting some nice scores and hopefully it will be more of the same for the next couple of days.”

Seven players are tied for fifth place on 68, including Scott Henry, who had five birdies, and the aforementioned Scotland, the most successful player in the history of MENA Tour with 10 wins.

Conor O’Neil and Jack Doherty joined Ross and Henry in signing for par-breaking efforts with matching 70s.

***

Buoyed by her win in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge last Thursday, Jane Turner is hoping to light up the Sunshine Ladies Tour again in this week’s Cape Town Ladies Open.

The Dalmahoy touring professional is joined in flying the Saltire at Royal Cape Golf Club by Hannah McCook, Gabrielle Macdonald and Laura Murray.

The 54-hole event is a final warm up for the Scots ahead of next week’s Investec South African Women’s Open, which is co-sanctioned with the LET.

“The win last week has given me a lot of confidence knowing I put together a lot of birdies,” said Turner of a four-shot success that was earned by being the only player to finish under par at Wild Coast Sun Country Club.

Referring to the fact the South African Open winner will receive full exemption on the LET for the rest of the season, she added: “I just need to keep that going as it will be a great springboard for any player who does well there.”

***

Cruden Bay’s Kevin Duncan retained fifth spot on the ProGolf Tour Order of Merit after the

Open Madaef Golfs 2019 event in Morocco.

Duncan, who won the Open Palmeraie in his previous outing on the third-tier circuit, closed with a 71 to finish joint-36th on one-under at Casa Green Golf in Casablanca.

Germany’s Moritz Lampert claimed the top prize on this occasion, signing off with a 67 for 17-under 199 total to win by three shots.

Chris MacLean, the only other Scot to make the cut, ended up in a share of 43rd after a last-day 74 for a two-over total.