Top-25 and positive signs for Purcell in UAE Challenge

Ronan MacNamara

Conor Purcell (Photo by Jonathan Di Maggio/R&A via Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Conor Purcell settled for a share of 25th place at the UAE Challenge as Maximilan Rottluf capped off a weekend charge with a win at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

Purcell teed off just one shot outside the top-10 and three shy of the top-5 but a final round charge up the leaderboard never materialised and he finished with a one-over 73 for a four-under total, ten shots shy of Rottluff.

The German, making his first start on the Challenge Tour this season, carded a round of 70 to reach 14 under par and finish one shot clear of Road to Mallorca Number One Ugo Coussaud.

The 30-year-old, who climbed the leaderboard on moving day with a course record 63, was delighted to claim a memorable win in Abu Dhabi.

“It means everything,” he said. “I’m speechless really. There were times this winter where I wasn’t sure whether or not I would keep playing or not, but here I am.

“I saw the leaderboard on the 17th for the first time and figured it was going to be a close call.

“I had some good targets which is one of the things you need on this golf course as it always plays hard. There’s not an easy golf shot out here, but I felt confident. It’s stressful to win a golf tournament though, especially on a golf course like this.

“There’s a lot of work and a lot of people that help me behind the scenes and I’m extremely grateful for those people.”

Rottluff started his final round two shots back from overnight leader Manuel Elvira, and after bogeying his opening hole and the par four eighth, he looked to be out of contention, however his round changed as he reached the turn.

Rottluff birdied five of his next seven holes from the ninth to join Coussaud at the top of the leaderboard, only for the Frenchman to bogey the 17th, giving Rottluff the outright lead.

Rottluff catapults to 14th on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and ensures his playing rights on the Challenge Tour for the remainder of the season.

“It changes everything for me,” he said. “The last two weeks I was checking if I was in the tournament or not probably five times a day and now I know I can play in every tournament I want on the Challenge Tour.

“Now I can plan and maybe I’ll rent a bigger van for the rest of the season, so it’s phenomenal for me.

“I’m excited to get home, to see my little one and my friends.”

Coussaud finished in second place on 13 under par, one shot ahead of Scotland’s Craig Howie and Dutchman Lars van Meijel who shared third on 12 under par.

Spaniard Ivan Cantero Gutirrez finished tied fifth alongside James Allan from England on 11 under par, with Italian Matteo Manassero one shot further back in sixth.

Paul Dunne ended his run of 72s with a four-over 76 to end the day on that mark while Ruaidhri McGee propped up the field on eight-over after a 77.

Coussaud extends his lead at the top of the Road to Mallorca Rankings with 909 points, South African JJ Senekal remains in second on 446 points and Adam Blomme from Sweden stays third on 424 points.

The Road to Mallorca heads to the Netherlands for the B-NL Challenge Trophy from May 18-21 at Twentsche GC.

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