PRETORIA — Daniel Hammond rode a hot start to break free from the chasing pack and win The Roar, the third and final event on the MENA Tour’s South Africa swing, co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Big Easy Tour, at Waterkloof Golf Club on Thursday.
Starting the final round one back, the 26-year-old South African signed for a solid five-under 67 to finish on 14-under, beating his nearest challenger and MENA Tour regular Matias Calderon by one shot for his third victory on the Sunshine Tour.
The South African duo Danie Van Niekerk and Combrinck Smit shared third on 11 under as Czech Republic’s Cyril Suk, two behind at the start, returned a 71 to settle for tied seventh on nine-under, two clear of England’s Scott Campbell, who matched the day’s low score of a 66 after dropping a bogey on the first, to finish in a tie for 14th along with fellow Englishman Jordan Garnish.
“I played really, really solidly,” said Hammond, who rattled up five birdies and an eagle against two bogeys. “It’s been a while, I have won twice before on the Big Easy Tour and to win this is a biggest thing of my career so far since I turned pro.
“So I’m really chuffed with that. Hopefully, I can build on this and take it to the main tour and show what I can do,” said Hammond, who reiterated that a change of attitude towards the game has helped him a lot and he attributes the win to that shift. "So, like I said in the week, it’s just trying to have a positive outlook on everything,” he said.
That mental strength came to the party for him was evidenced by a chip-in on 17 and a great bunker shot on 18, because on any other day emotions could have taken over and ruined the moment for him.
Chilean Calderon, who closed with a 67, had a shaky start that saw the young prodigy drop a shot on the first hole, but he swiftly recovered and made three birdies on the front nine.
The homeward stretch was similar to the front for Calderon as he dropped another shot on 12 before three more birdies made their way into his scorecard.
Karabo Mokoena completed a grand double for South Africa, winning the amateur division on four-under after carding a final round 71, one ahead of Dylan Kok. India’s Dubai-based Arkesh Bhatia had put himself in contention after opening with a 70, but followed it with a 75, missing the cut by one shot.
The MENA will resume after a summer break in September.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.