A jubilant Shanshan Feng receives the iconic trophy from His Highness Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, Director General, Dubai Information Department. His Highness Shaikh Fahim bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Emirates Golf Federation, Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Vice Chairman and CEO of ‘golf in DUBAi,’ and Henri Burrus, Omega’s Regional Sales Manager, were also present.
China’s Shanshan Feng came from five strokes back to claim her fourth Omega Dubai Ladies Masters title inside five years as she once again mastered the Majlis Course with a sizzling 64 on a blustery final day at Emirates Golf Club.
A run of six birdies in her first 10 holes took the world number four to within one stroke of the lead, held by the overnight leader Felicity Johnson. Another three straight birdies from the ninth gave her a one stroke advantage and it was effectively all over when she made an eighth birdie on the 14th hole.
“I’m really happy that I actually brought out my A Game today,” said Feng, who first won the title in 2012, and then three times consecutively from 2014.
“I knew that it was going to be windy today and I knew that playing in the wind is one of my strongest parts. So even though I was five behind, but you know, in the morning, I always thought that maybe I would still have a chance to win this week and I tried my best. 8-under was a pretty good score.”
Feng won with a tournament record 21-under-par for 72 holes in 2015, but the 2016 event was cut to 54 holes in honour of caddie Maximilian Zechmann, who collapsed and died early in the first round.
Rounds of 72, 70 and 64 for a total of 10-under-par ensured a two stroke victory over England’s Charley Hull, who shot a flawless final round of 65 to end on eight-under and win a wager against her good friend, James, from Kettering Golf Club.
Hull explained: “It could have been a really good score, from 13, 14, 15, the putts just edged, but my friend texted me this morning. He goes, ‘if you shoot 65 or lower, I’m going to get my kit off by the tree.’ So I shot 65 or lower, so he’s got to do it now!”
She continued: “Today I kind of woke up and got into my golf game. I’ve been a bit lazy all week I felt on the golf course but today I got in there and kind of concentrated. Today I did and I felt good. I holed a few putts today and I missed a lot of putts — it was on the edge. I hit a lot of good putts out there. Kind of evened itself out. Hit it pretty well, pretty decent and it was really windy today. So I’m quite happy with my score in the conditions.”
India’s Aditi Ashok ended in a tie for third place with England’s Florentyna Parker on six-under-par and sealed Rookie of the Year honours.
Ashok said: “It was pretty solid. I actually didn’t start very well today. I started, I was plus one in the first four holes but in the first four, all four were actually birdie-able with the tailwind. So I didn’t really make use of that. I made a par on No. 3, which is playing one shot under compared to the field. That was not so good, but it was better after, the back nine, especially. I shot 2-under on the back nine. I’m happy. I shot 2-under three days in a row. I feel it was consistent but it could have been better. But there’s always something you can do better every week. So it’s fine. I think I’m tied third right now, so I’m happy with that.”
The first round leader, Florentyna Parker, signed off with a 71 and said: “I struggled on the front nine and was 2-over and I finished really well, so I was 3-under for the last five holes. So that was really good. I’m pleased and I’ll take it. I’m going on holiday tomorrow, so that’s perfect for me. I’ve had a great year and eight top-10s. I’m really thrilled.”
England’s Georgia Hall tied for fifth on five-under alongside Ashleigh Simon, who is getting married next week, a year after being proposed to by her boyfriend and caddie David Buhai on the 18th green.
Meanwhile second round leader Felicity Johnson ended with a 75 for a share of seventh place. Johnson started with a bogey but made a strong response with a birdie at the second and an eagle at the third, extending her lead to four shots after a birdie on the fifth hole. Her challenge faded with five dropped shots in four holes from the seventh and another bogey on the 18th but she reflected: “I’m not a massive fan of playing in the wind, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might have been. It was tricky to pick the direction out there. But yeah, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might have been. It’s obviously a top-10, any day, you’ve got to be happy with. To put myself into the position I did yesterday, kind of was a nice feeling again to be in the right position, at the right end of the leader board.”
For Feng, this was her seventh Ladies European Tour victory and her fourth title of the season, following the Buick Championship, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and TOTO Japan Classic, as well as Olympic Bronze at Rio 2016.