Jonathan Yates was in an upbeat mood despite missing out on a maiden professional win at the opening event of the Alps Tour Winter Series- the Ein Bay Open near Cairo.
The Naas professional birdied his final three holes and seven in-all to finish in a share of second spot at 11-under par after a closing 68.
In the end, Frenchman Frederic Lacroix wasn’t for catching but despite finishing four shots adrift of the winner, Yates was delighted with a productive week’s work.
“Great day – great fun – really, really enjoyed it,” said the bubbly Kildare pro. “It was so good to be in the thick of it. It’s what you practice for, those exact situations. Obviously, it would have been a bit more interesting if Freddy didn’t get off to the start that he did but it was great regardless.
“The course was set up very fair, you were rewarded for good shots and punished for bad ones and it’s just been a great week.”
Yates was buoyed by a performance helped by recent experiences on the Mediterranean Tour where he had played his way into contention without ever really seeing it through come crunch-time.
“I took a lot from my few weeks on the Med,” he explained. “I put myself in position in all three events there to win but in the final round of each one I just tried different things to see what worked and what didn’t and I guess I learned a lot from how that panned out.
“When I got into that position again today, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I knew the importance of taking each shot on its own merit – it’s so easy to say it but how often do we do it – we get lost in our score and all the other things when all we really have to do is put the ball from A to B, and the closer it is to B the more success you’re going to have!
“That was the attitude I had. I made a lovely birdie on 9, hit a wedge stiff and then I birdied 11 and 12 to suddenly jump from a mediocre round to three-under through eleven and I saw I was second.
“I was hoping to squeeze a few more and really push Freddy but 14 was playing tough; I bunkered myself and made a rock-solid bogey there. It wasn’t the end of the world though. The way it was playing it was always going to be a good four.
“I got a bad break then on 15 – hit a sprinkler going for the green off the tee. Luckily the ball was found but it had ricocheted into some ice plant and I made another bogey there.
“But again, it didn’t really faze me. I’d hit a good shot and got unlucky and that attitude carried me through the last three holes.”
Indeed, Yates’ finish was sublime, made all the sweeter because it’s something he and coach Gavin Lunny had been discussing for some time, and to see it come to fruition was understandably pleasing.
“I hit three good iron shots and made three putts for birdie from 10 feet, 5 feet and 3 feet – just by staying aggressive,” he continued.
“Since I turned professional, Gavin [Lunny] and I have been really focussed on staying aggressive. I’ve always had a tendency, particularly in windy conditions, to play for the fat of the green.
“That’s good if you’re having a tricky day in Rosses Point but from what I’ve seen out here, it doesn’t matter the weather; if you’re not making birdies you’re moving backwards. You need to take everything on and I feel like playing aggressive has been rewarded this week.”
Rewarded he has been and with more events to look forward to as his Alps Tour journey only gets started, Yates’ is excited about the prospect of what’s to come.
“I didn’t feel like I played my best golf at all this week so to have finished second, with how I played, it’s quite satisfying. I’m disappointed not to have won but there’s another tournament next week, another chance to get myself in contention and it’s another chance to win.”