Yates in upbeat mood despite Alps Tour near miss

John Craven
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Yates in upbeat mood despite Alps Tour near miss

Jonathan Yates (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Jonathan Yates insists he will learn plenty in defeat after coming up just shy of a first professional victory at the Alps Tour’s Red Sea Little Venice Open.

The Naas pro fired a five-under par final round of 67 to set the clubhouse target at 15-under and when Italian, Stefano Mazzoli could only bogey the last – and his playing partner Sam Robinson birdied his closing two – it meant a three-way tie at the top and a sudden-death playoff.

Sadly, for Yates and Robinson, Mazzoli bounced back with a birdie at the first extra hole and with neither Yates nor Robinson able to match it, the Italian took the spoils in Egypt.

“I’m disappointed obviously but it’s a decent week,” said Yates. “It’s very hard to lose in a playoff because you get so close but look, Stefano made a solid birdie on the playoff hole and I didn’t play it very well so he earned his victory.”

To the outsider looking in, a podium finish, let alone victory, would’ve seemed a far-fetched dream for Yates this week given he missed the 36-hole cut with an eight-over par showing at the season opener only a matter of days ago at the Ein Bay Open.

“It’s so typical though, golf,” laughed Yates. “I had a great off-season in terms of preparation coming here. I hadn’t scored amazingly but if you had actually watched me, I was playing good golf.

“That continued into last week. 75% of the golf I played was fine but I had a couple of left misses which I never do – I normally play a nice fade – and left was dead on that golf course.

“I couldn’t score but I was very upbeat coming into this week. I knew my game was good – I liked the course and just needed to iron a few things out and thankfully I did.”

After posting 15-under par for 54-holes, the Kildare man had more or less accepted second place after watching Mazolli go one clear playing the gettable last.

But with a strong Irish contingent out on Tour again this year, Yates was snapped back into competition mode by West Waterford’s Gary Hurley who happened to be chatting to Yates as regulation play neared its conclusion.

“I saw Stefano went one clear with a hole to play and 18 was playing a driver and a flick so I had kind of resigned myself to second, but I was with Gary Hurley and he said, ‘look, you never know. The flag’s a bit nasty and anything can happen’.

“Sure enough, he made bogey and I warmed up again on the range but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”

Victory may have proved elusive but as Padraig Harrington said on the Tommy Tiernan show recently, “I see failing as winning,” with Yates keen to learn from an invaluable experience amid the pressure cooker environment of trying to land a win in professional golf.

“For the last six holes, I could’ve birdied my way in,” he reflected. “I just got a little bit tentative on my putts – left a few in the jaws. I suppose it’s a new environment for me as well.

“I knew I was front-running from the 11th. I don’t mind that, I’m not one to shy away from a leaderboard, but I was very aware that I was in the lead so I was just trying to keep pushing and pushing and make birdies and I just got a little bit tentative but that’s something I’ll learn to handle better going forward.

“All the work goes in from the outside, from physical training to mental to everything really to just be in that position so it was great to get a sense of that and it’s something that will stand to me I’m sure.”

Hurley meanwhile carded a final round three-under par 69 to narrowly miss out on another top-10 as his renaissance continues.

At 11-under par, he shared 11th spot with both Irishmen set to travel home in the early hours on Wednesday after fruitful early season forays to the Alps Tour circuit.

Great playing lads.

Full scoring HERE

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