Final day – Niki Zitny helps Austria to Notable Double
Austria completed a notable double on the PGAs of Europe tournament schedule when Niki Zitny added this inaugural endorsed Pro-Am to the International Team Championship captured by their team of three at Roda, Murcia, Spain in December.
Although the former European Tour player struggled to match his form of the opening two rounds, in perfect conditions on a warm and sunny day, his two-over-par 74 gave him a one-stroke margin over the Australian Jason Evans (70) and British PGA Cup player Jon Bevan (72).
Zitny had to survive a scary final hole when, in trying to play safe on the long par four, he dumped his second shot into water for an uncharacteristic bogey five.
This could have opened the way for either Evans or Bevan but the Australian, one of two brothers in the event, had dropped a shot at the par five third when a birdie could have been on offer.
Bevan, partnering Zitny, who won the Beko Classic at the same venue last November, suffered a similar lapse at the par five 16th thereby enabling the Austrian, deservedly, to keep his name at the top of the leaderboard at the end of an admirable 54-hole display.
Day 2 – Niki Zitny Leads….with Jon Bevan in Pursuit
Former European Tour player Niki Zitny (Austria) nosed ahead of the rest of the field by three strokes, in the second round, with a fine four-under-par 68…but, perhaps ominously, his closest challenger was a previous winner at Antalya.
British PGA Cup player, the experienced Jon Bevan, winner of the Beko Classic here only a few weeks ago, added a 70 to his overnight 71 to promise a chase to the finishing line in the third and final round.
After the start had been delayed by 90 minutes due to early morning frost, things warmed up nicely with far less wind than on Day 1 and the 36-hole scores, of the 54-hole tournament, featured a pair of Australian brothers, Jason and Jon Evans in the top half-dozen, both on one-under-par 143.
Two other former PGAs of Europe-endorsed event winners, Erol Simsek and Henrik Engdahl were in the chasing pack, but possibly too far back to make a meaningful challenge.
Best scores of the day were 68 by Zitny and Janez Grilc, the Slovenian who is a regular in the International Team Championship, and a 69 by the ever-consistent Simsek.
Day 1 – Three-Nation Challenge at the Top
A Turk, an Austrian and an Italian shared the first round lead in the PGAs of Europe-endorsed Kempinski Hotel ‘The Dome’ Pro-Am, on two-under-par 70.
Savas Karatas (Turkey), Niki Zitny (Austria) and George Grillo (Italy) opened up a narrow, one-stroke lead in the first round of the inaugural event, sponsored by Avea, the Turkish telecom company.
The new event proved a huge attraction, with 57 teams of four participating on the two excellent golf courses in this increasingly-popular location.
Although played out in bright sunshine, contestants had to battle against an unusually tough package of conditions, comprising hard fast greens and bitterly cold high winds, making any score of around par a fine achievement, especially on the more difficult PGA-branded Sultan course.
This contributed to the fact that those leading three scores, were all registered on the Pasha, but the trio could have a more difficult day in the second round tomorrow when they all change courses. Leading player on the hazardous Sultan was Jon Evans in joint fourth place.
Despite the challenging conditions there were two holes in one … by Mehmet Ceylan and Steve Richardson. The former European Ryder Cup player, struck his ace with an almost miraculous 215 metre five wood, at the sixth on the Sultan.