Paul McBride continued his fine start to the season by helping himself to another top-10 finish on the MENA Tour, this time at the Bahrain Open.
Having already banked a top-5 result at last week’s Ghala Open, the former Dublin minor hurler showed no signs of stopping at Royal Golf Club.
It was a bit of a mixed bag in truth for McBride on the final day as he traded four birdies with four bogeys in an even-par 72 that saw him settle for a share of seventh at five-under.
The Island professional pocketed $1,750 in another encouraging performance and led home the Irish challenge as players try to get some early season competitive rounds under their belt ahead of a long season.
Naas pro Conor O’Rourke would’ve benefited greatly from a solid week at the 54-hole event.
After watching his clubmate Jonathan Yates miss out in a playoff on Alps Tour duty the day before, O’Rourke returned an even par 72 to grab a share of 26th at plus-three for the tournament.
Rory McNamara snuck inside the top-40 at six-over par after carding a final round 73 while Tramore’s Robin Dawson, who shone so brightly with a 68 on the opening day, posted a disappointing 81 to fall to a share of 41st.
At the top, all the days of self-doubting is over for England’s David Hague as he put together a brilliant back nine on another very windy day to secure his maiden professional win at the $75,000 event in only his fourth start in the paid ranks.
The 24-year-old from Malton and Norton Golf Club, who rose to No76 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and turned pro earlier this year only after securing his card through the MENA Tour by Arena Qualifying School, knuckled down on the back nine and shot a one-under par 71 to tally nine-under par 207 for the three days.
In the end, that proved to be one better than former European Tour star Victor Riu (70) of France.
The Scottish pair of Ryan Lumsden (71) and Callum Fyfe (70) were tied third at seven-under par 209 alongside England’s Ben Hutchinson (67) and Sweden’s Henric Sturehed (68) – the two best cards on a day when players had to battle through occasional drizzle and steady high wind at the Colin Montgomerie-designed Royal Golf Club.
Saud Al Sharif, a member of the Saudi National Team and the host club, could not replicate the stunning performance from the second round and slipped down the leaderboard with an 81 in his first experience of playing in the leadergroup of a professional event. However, his two-over par total was still good enough to win him the Low Amateur of the Tournament prize.
Hague, who recently finished runner-up at the NEWGIZA Open in Cairo, started the final round as leader by one shot, but was trailing at the turn after making a double bogey on the seventh hole and Lumsden surging ahead with an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole. At that stage, Hague was seven-under.
But the champion made three birdies on the back nine as against a solitary bogey on the 12th hole, including a crucial one on the par-4 15th hole, which was playing very tough into the headwind. It was a two-shot swing against both Lumsden and Riu, his closest rivals, who dropped shots on the same hole.
“This is amazing and very satisfying. I have been thinking of turning professional for more than a year now and always had my doubts about it. I felt I was on a good run when I played the MENA Tour Qualifying School, and thought it was a good time to make the decision. This win definitely validates it,” said Hague, a member of the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team.
“I drove consistently well this whole week and that really was the key to my winning. I struggled with my putter from inside six feet and made several three-putts – something I need to work on.
“When I was trailing at the turn, I knew I needed to be patient because the back nine of this golf course has been pretty good to me. And yes, that birdie on the 15th was a key moment for me.”
Al Sharif was disappointed with his round, but not disheartened with his effort.
“It was a tough day on the golf course, but I wanted to do better than what I did. However, this is my first time in a situation like this and I am sure I have learned a lot on how to handle things in the future. This experience will make me a better player,” said the 19-year-old.
The MENA Tour travels to Aqaba, Jordan, for the $75,000 Journey to Jordan #2 next week.
Full scoring HERE