Jens Dantorp played one of the shots of the season to seal a memorable victory at the Ras Al Khaimah 2017 Golf Challenge, overcoming Adrian Meronk in a dramatic play-off with a sensational eagle.
The Swede had narrowly missed out on an eagle that would have won the title in regulation play, tapping in for a birdie to take the tournament to extra holes at Al Hamra GC, but at the second time of asking he put his approach to six feet on the par five 18th hole and rolled in the putt to better his opponent’s birdie.
The result could not have been more timely as it secured Dantorp his place in next week’s NBO Golf Classic Grand Final – only the top 45 in the Road to Oman Rankings will contest the Muscat shootout and the 28 year old climbed 35 places to 13th place with this win.
The top 15 in the Rankings in one week’s time will earn European Tour cards and for Dantorp, this would mean joining Henrik Stenson in the Race to Dubai – the man who he credited for inspiring his victory-sealing approach.
“It’s one of the best shots of my career,” he said. “I just had one shot in mind walking up 18: Henrik Stenson’s in Dubai on 18 a couple of years ago. I tried to repeat that and I was close on the first time – the second time I pulled it off though.
“It feels great to win. It’s been a couple of years since my last win so I was really chasing another one and today was the day, so it feels great.
“I don’t know what it is about the Middle East that brings out my best golf. I enjoy it when it’s warm, I like the grass around here and I’m just comfortable around these courses.
“My plan was to break the course record but that didn’t work out! I wanted to hit as many greens as possible and hope that my putter would be warm and it was enough.
“I saw on 17 that Adrian was 15 under and I expected that he would have birdied the last, so I was going for an eagle to try to get in a play-off.
“I got to the green and saw he had finished on 15 under so I had a putt for the win. Unfortunately it lipped out but I managed to roll in the eagle on the play-off instead.
“I’m just going to keep going next week in Oman. Hopefully I’ll play well there again – I love the place over there and I’m looking forward to another great week and hopefully I can do enough to get a European Tour card.”
Meronk had led for much of the day, the young Pole not dropping a shot all round as he set the clubhouse target at 15 under par with a closing round of 67.
Dantorp, however, was three groups behind him and, after birdieing 14 to close the gap to one, narrowly missed his eagle on the last hole, settling for a similarly bogey-free 68 to reach 15 under as well.
Meronk can console himself with a spot in the Grand Final field – knowing only a top two finish would suffice to move up enough from 79th, he will close a memorable rookie season on the Challenge Tour with a chance to gain European Tour status next week.
Clément Sordet, playing alongside Meronk, took third place on 14 under par – a result that moves the Frenchman inside the top 15 of the Rankings – with Christopher Mivis, Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin one shot further back in a share of fourth.
Overnight leader Chase Koepka dropped shots early and never recovered, his one-shot lead evaporating and his closing round of 74 leaving him in a share of 15th place.