PGA of Austria Professional, Georg Schultes, secured his maiden PGAs of Europe Tournament win after coming out on top of a two-man playoff at the 2016 Mercedes-Benz International Pro-Am supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Eastern Motors at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
“I’ve been here since the beginning; it’s my third year here in Al Ain,” said Schultes. “I’ve finished with results of second or fourth in the first two years so I feel like I was due – I didn’t want to jinx it but third time lucky so It feels pretty good!”
The final day of the tournament lived up to all the expectation of a tight and thrilling finale – overnight leader Georg Schultes had a four shot cushion going into the final day and with his excellent record in the tournament it seemed that this was to be the year to build upon his previous fourth and second place finishes.
Making a move early on in the day was the PGA of Austria’s Christoph Pfau who fired in five birdies and an eagle on his way to a 64 (-7), which saw him fly up the leaderboard and hold the early clubhouse lead.
Great playing conditions where obviously on the cards at the course located in the Oasis City of Al Ain, but no one foresaw the quality of the round that was about to come from last year’s runner-up, Alex Wrigley (PGA of Great Britain & Ireland).
A phenomenal round from the member of the victorious 2015 PGA Cup team saw him soar up the leaderboard and put the pressure onto Schultes in spectacular fashion. A strong opening to his final round was followed by an even stronger close ending up with a blemish-free course record of 61 (-10) leaving Schultes to face the tough task of not dropping a shot on the closing six holes of his round.
Schultes built on his overnight score immediately with a birdie at the first hole before dropping a shot at the Par 5 third hole before returning back to nine under on the 9th. With news filtering through about the record breaking round from Wrigley, the pressure increased as his overnight cushion evaporated. Seemingly unphased, one birdie and one bogey on his inward nine saw him finish on -9 and join Wrigley in a tie for first place to force a playoff.
With both players just missing out on birdie putts on the first play off hole it was halved in regulation pars and back down the 18th hole they headed. Matching each other shot for shot, Wrigley had the first go at the birdie but his putt slipped just past the hole. Schultes was left to hole the same putt he had missed on his final hole in regulation play to secure the win that had evaded him in previous years.
“I thought to myself the first time we played the 18th hole that he’d shot 61 so I went into it pretty open but as soon as he missed that short putt on the first playoff hole I thought I was in with a pretty decent shout…”
Gavin Chappell from the AESGC speaking after the presentaion “I am really happy for Georg to finally see him win this event at his third attempt and with coming close in the previous two years. Also commiserations to Alex after shooting his amazing 61 to make the play off to then miss out and have to settle for the runners up spot again as he did in 2015. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Mr. Mohammad Al Momani and his team at Eastern Motors for their continued support in this event as well as Mr. Aref Hamad Al Awani and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their involvement, without these we would not be able to stage this successful event”
Mr. Mohammed Al Momani, General Manager of Eastern Motors “Congratulations to Georg Schultes and the entire team! It’s been an exciting and unique tournament this year with 20 different nationalities including Emiratis; we are truly pleased to be a part of this elite sport as it is in line with our Mercedes-Benz brand persona as the authorized dealership. Golf is gaining more ground in Al Ain, and the UAE at large, corroborating that our efforts of engaging with the community these last few years has been successful. We are looking forward to seeing new players emerge and existing professionals to reach their athletic goals.”
In the Team Tournament Rockliffe Hall’s team led by PGA Assistant Professional, Jonny Dye (pictured above), completed a wire-to-wire victory after a closing 87 points (-15) built on their four-point overnight lead to win the title for the first time. In second place was Rockliffe’s Head Professional, Jonathan Stacey, who had valiantly stayed in touching distance of Jonny and his team but their closing 86 points (-14) was not quite enough.
For the final day of the tournament a Professional Shootout was introduced on Al Ain’s Academy Course. The exciting format saw all the Professionals play an initial nine holes to determine the top-10 Professionals who would then proceed to the shootout itself. Daniel Whitby-Smith (PGA of GB&I) led the way after shooting a very impressive 6 birdies to secure his place in the final 10 but was knocked out on the second hole. The field was eventually whittled down to two GB&I Professionals, Garry Houston and Michael Nesbit, who were forced to extra holes in order to determine the champion and the winner’s cheque of €1000. The consistent and steady Michael Nesbit took the title on the second extra play off hole with a regulation par after an excellent display of wedge shot precision.
For the amateurs an 18-hole nett strokeplay awaited and Tim Walker prevailed with the title after and excellent nett 66 (-5) saw him take the title by two shots.
To find out more about Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club visit www.aesgc.ae.