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Neergaard-Petersen extends lead on Challenge Tour with Abu Dhabi win

Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen has won his second Challenge Tour title from three events
28 Apr 2024 19:30

Kuumar Shyam (Abu Dhabi)

Self-improvement and relishing in challenges are the calling cards for Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen at the moment, at least, as he aptly won the Abu Dhabi leg of the UAE double-header on the Challenge Tour, a pathway to the European Tour, in the Emirate on Sunday.

UAE players also won the concurrent Gulf Youth Games' golf event. After finishing tied seventh in Al Ain, Neergaard-Petersen opened and ended the second leg of the UAE Challenge strongly at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club for a well-deserved win.

Even the Dane heaved a sigh of relief, and not the least because he had been mostly waiting in the wings of Wilco Nienaber in both back-to-back events. Neergaard-Petersen has now won two out of three Challenge Tour events – first first ever win as a professional came last month in Kolkata India – and he put it down to improving on his swing with the driver during the Christmas break.

"I was looking back at my action," said Neergaard-Petersen, "and in my Draw shots [when golfers tries to hit the ball to go from right to left] I was closing my shoulder a bit. Once I got that sorted into more of a Fade shape [opposite of draw], it turned out well."

Neergaard-Petersen started the week in pole position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings and now sits in a commanding position after eight events of the 29-event season. That looked slightly off the mark when he started the final round three strokes behind Nienaber.

That, too, was after he recovered from a mid-round wobble to finish two-under for Day 3. "I got off to a really good start in the first round, played pretty good in the second round, but I'm most proud of my third round. It was probably the best round of two under par I've ever played," Neergaard-Petersen said.

He fired seven birdies on his way to a five-under par final round of 67 to finish 14-under par for the week, one stroke ahead of Nienaber in second place. It helped that Nienaber fell agonisingly short of making a birdie on the 18th to force a possible play-off in the eventual reckoning.

The pin positioning and the tough course, "which has a lot of bunkers" according to the winner, made the final hole even more challenging. The pin was right close to a water hole and a bunker in a V formation and another bunker 20 feet away on the other side. Hit the approach shot marginally harder or to the right, and bunkers came in play for many or a drop shot for going into the water. Nienaber went into the far bunker with his approach shot and into the putting rough in front of the water in the next shot.

  • Wilco Nienaber digs his way out of the bunker on the final hole at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club (Kuumar Shyam)
    Wilco Nienaber digs his way out of the bunker on the final hole at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club (Kuumar Shyam)


While the preceding week in Al Ain was also difficult after rain wrecked ideal conditions for play, the ground staff of the Saadiyat venue was lauded by everyone including those at the presentation party.

Aref Al Awani, the Secretary-General of Abu Dhabi Sports Council handed over the winner's trophy.

Neergaard-Petersen, 24, said about his two weeks in the UAE: "Al Ain needed all golfers to accurate. If we could do that there were ample rewards [two rounds of record score of 60 were posted on the par-70 course]. Here at Saadiyat, the course is very longer and can be taxing to keep focus. The rounds were much longer.

"I like challenges. And obviously because I won, the time here in Abu Dhabi is more special than Al Ain," said Neergaard-Petersen while adding that he was looking forward to having a nice dinner in the city before flying back home.

Englishman David Horsey finished in third place on 12-under par, while Dane Hamish Brown and Spaniard Joel Moscatel were one shot further back in a share of fourth.

Dubai amateur Oscar Craig, who had stepfather Tommy Fleetwood as his caddie all week, carded a respectable final round of 76 to place him on two over for the tournament in a share of 60th place.

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