Sunday, 03 November 2013
Shiv Kapur  (Getty Images)
Shiv Kapur (Getty Images)
Shiv Kapur became the first Indian winner of the Dubai Festival City Challenge Tour Grand Final hosted by Al Badia Golf Club as he soared to a four shot victory which earned a return to The European Tour on a day of high drama in the race for graduation to the top tier.

The European Challenge Tour’s season finale never fails to produce fireworks and this season’s edition, held at the suitably spectacular Al Badia Golf Club by InterContinental for the first time, was no different.
Kapur’s glorious victory meant he skyrocketed into the crucial top 15 in the Rankings, from 20th to third, to create history as the first Indian to graduate from the Challenge Tour to The European Tour, while Jamie McLeary secured a rookie season on The Race to Dubai in similarly imperious fashion with a tied runner-up finish

Andrea Pavan, meanwhile, brought his stunning season to a fitting end as the Italian claimed tied fourth place to wrap up the title of Challenge Tour Number One, following in the footsteps of the likes of Thomas Björn (1995), Henrik Stenson (2000), Edoardo Molinari (2009) and Tommy Fleetwood (2011).

On a day of ever-changing permutations, hypothetical what ifs and jangling nerves for many players in and around the brink of graduation to The European Tour, Kapur made sure that his impending return to the top tier was at least one nailed on certainty having begun the day four clear in Dubai.

Utilising the kind of nous and experience gained from seven years on The European Tour, he cruised to a bogey-free two under par final round of 70.

The only threat to his position at the top of the leaderboard came fleetingly early in the round as the New Delhi man’s playing partner Wil Besseling, needing a win this week to secure European Tour status, moved to within two shots of the top before falling back.

Kapur was delighted to have sealed the deal in such composed style and cannot wait to return to the top and compete for a maiden European Tour title, having claimed the first and last Challenge Tour titles of the 2013 season.

“I'm really pleased,” said the 32 year old. “It was a tough week and I had to battle away. I knew today was going to be hard. Wil made a charge with a couple of birdies early on but I just had to stick to my game plan to keep mistakes off my card.

“I'm very proud of myself to shoot a bogey-free round and once I did that the pressure was on the rest of the guys so I'm extremely happy.

“I made it a little hard on myself this year not playing as many tournaments as some other players on the Challenge Tour but I backed myself and told myself that if I played well enough I would make it back on to The European Tour.

“Sometimes when you plan these things and they don’t work out it looks like a great plan so I'm pretty pleased with how it worked out. It would obviously have been nice to have less pressure coming into this week but there is no better feeling than when you win.

“I have had five or six professional wins but given the circumstances and everything leading up to the week, this one is right up there with the best of them.

“I have spent seven years on The European Tour and I've wanted to get back there. It’s a great tour which is going from strength to strength and I cannot wait to get back. I'm really looking forward to the year.”

McLeary provided one of the real stories of the day at the sun-kissed United Arab Emirates venue as the Scot claimed the last of the 15 European Tour cards at the death thanks to a three under par 69.

The 32 year old carded four birdies in the first 13 holes to move clear into outright second place, the position he felt he required to make the cut. But when his playing partner José-Filipe Lima made a late charge that finished with a birdie to join the Edinburgh man as joint runner-up, he believed he had failed to make the grade at the eleventh hour.

It was only when he had signed his card that it was confirmed McLeary had sealed a rookie season on The European Tour, rounding off a tense day for those on the bubble.

“I’m delighted," explained the 32 year old from Edinburgh. "To finish the way I did was nice. I knew it was going to be a tough day and I kind of knew the score I wanted to shoot

“I worried that I would never make it to The European Tour, that I was one of those guys that was really consistent but without the big finishes at the big events that I needed. It has taken a lot longer than I thought it would, and the older you get the more nervous you get, but I’ve got my chance and I’m confident I’ll take it.
“I’m just delighted I’ve finally made it to The European Tour after six or seven years. It’s been a long road but I got there.”

Nacho Elvira was another of those whose future was in the balance heading into the final day but he roared to a six under par 66 to clinch a top ten finish, enough to move him from 15th in the Rankings to 14th and seal a rookie season on The European Tour. 

American Daniel Im and Sam Walker of England were the unfortunate ones to miss out as they dropped out of the top 15 from 13th place and 14th place respectively.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KAPUR, ShivIND18-16
T2MCLEARY, JamieSCO18-12
T2LIMA, José-FilipePOR18-12
T4DAVIES, RhysWAL18-11
T4PAVAN, AndreaITA18-11
T6DUBOIS, EdouardFRA18-10
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