Mathiesen masterful in Middle East
1 April 2016: In the opening event of the 2016 Faldo Series season Mikkel Mathiesen produced a wonderful display at Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. Mathiesen, competing in the Boys’ Under-16 Division, shot three consecutive rounds of 69 to win by an impressive six-shot margin over a class field. Mathiesen is rewarded with a place at the 20th Faldo Series Grand Final.
‘Today was much calmer’ stated Mikkel at the end of his round, ‘I have not played as well as I did the first two days but thankfully scrambled well especially on the back 9. It was great to finish with a birdie at the last to secure my victory. I am looking forward to going to the Grand Final, it’s an exciting opportunity to compete at the highest level as well as learning from Sir Nick Faldo.’
58 players with 23 nationalities were at Al Ain to fight for the coveted Grand Final places. Mathiesen will be especially thrilled to have defeated a field containing precociously talented previous Grand Finalists. The Middle East Championship was supported for the first time by the Emirates Golf Federation.
The Boys’ Under-18 Division was claimed by Swede Christopher Rahm by three shots. Rahm’s scores of 70, 70 & 73 were impressive results as a strong breeze made for difficult scoring conditions. Rahm commented: ‘I was happy with the way I battled and finally started to hit fairways and greens which was the difference in the end. It’s a huge tournament to win, and now I can look forward to the rest of the season and the Grand Final.’
Ryan Hunter secured his place in the Grand Final by winning the Under-21 Championship by three shots. His scores of 74, 71 & 74 sealed victory in the division over Brazilian Tiago Lobo. All three Boys’ winners will be appearing in their first Grand Final.
The Girls’ Under-21 tournament saw the biggest turnaround of the day. Trailing by 4, Scotland’s, Dubai based Alison Muirhead, produced a scintillating round of level par, including an eagle 2 at Hole 14 to win the division by 2 shots. ‘I putted poorly yesterday so last night I headed back to Dubai for a lesson from my coach Mark Gregson Walters, and thankfully it worked. I drove the ball well today putting pressure on my playing companions and it’s always good to hole a few nice putts.’ Alison now heads to the Grand Final for the second time having won her native Scotland qualifier last year.
Last year’s Under 16 winner Kim Chiang made it a double victory this year. Leading from day 1, she was pushed very hard today by Sahana Paravantavida, but a strong finish meant she lifted the trophy by 5 shots. ‘The conditions this year have been very tough, I feel I have played good and it has been a fantastic tournament hosted by AESGC. Last year experience has helped me through today and I look forward to going back and giving a good account of myself in the Grand Final,’ stated Chiang.
Off the course the players benefited from time with Faldo’s personal coach Keith Wood. Keith assisted the players and conducted clinics for the duration of the week. The renowned coach also ran another clinic for schoolchildren local to Al-Ain.
Leading final scores:
219 – Ryan Hunter (NZ) 74-71-74
222 – Tiago Lobo (Brazil) 74-75-73
230 – Rick Van Der Nat (Ned) 78-70-82
213 – Christofer Rahm (SWE) 70-70-73
216 – Rayhan Thomas (IND) 72-70-74
219 – Matthew Baxter (ENG) 73-75-71
207 – Mikkel Mathiesen (DEN) 69-69-69
214 – Jakub Hrinda (SVK) 70-75-69
225 – Yaseen Le Falher (FRA) 78-70-77
Girls’ Under 21:
223 – Alison Muirhead (SCO) 73-79-71
225 – Laila Hrindova (SVK) 75-73-77
228 – Anastasia Bakal (RUS) 80-74-74
229 – Kim Chiang (MAL) 78-75-76
234 – Sahana Paravantavida (USA) 81-74-79
246 – Sakura Kawakami (JAP) 84-75-85
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching thousands of golfers each year. Past winners include Major Champions Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, who took his tally of professional Major titles to four with his wins at the 2014 Open Championship and US PGA Championship.
For full scores and results please click here.