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  • Writer's pictureRonan Kleu

Trending in the UAE

Updated: May 6

Yesterday I got back from the United Arab Emirates to conclude a successful Asian swing on the Challenge Tour. With a T-32 and T-16 finish, I collected some ranking points to jump into 93rd position on the Race to Mallorca. It was important to get some points on the board and crucial for my confidence to see some results shine through from the work I have been putting in.

We kicked things off in India for two consecutive events, of which I was only able to play one due to military obligations. Kolkata was completely new to me, and I was in a positive and excited state of mind from the experiences heading into the tournament. Every day was extremely hot and humid, to the point where any wind was welcome. The golf course was situated rather centrally in Kolkata itself, a megacity with twice as many inhabitants as entire Switzerland. It was a well-designed, tree-lined course with grainy Bermuda greens and high rough. I spent a lot of my time in the short game areas, adjusting as best as possible to the very non-European conditions. Nevertheless, over the first two rounds, I struggled a lot with the greens and their grain, and shot 73, 73. As I try to take at least some positives from each week, it was good to see how some of the work I had been putting in to get back to my usual strong approach game was paying off as I was a lot more often hitting my intended targets.

Despite missing the cut, I made the most of my time there. I was traveling with Jeremy, and we were lucky enough to be hosted by a family who are close friends of someone we know. The beauty of this was that we ate with them, really experiencing the local cuisine and life in Kolkata. They were even kind enough to organize a sightseeing tour on Wednesday and provide an IPL ticket for the weekend. We were very grateful for their hospitality.

I had to wait three weeks for another tournament as we then headed to Abu Dhabi for back-to-back tournaments at Al Ain Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. The first week nearly felt like coming back to my home course after the performance camps we had with SwissGolf there over the last two years, a welcomed feeling. The first two days of preparation were canceled due to uncharacteristic torrential rain and storms experienced that week, leaving us with only one day for proper preparation. I started out slowly on Thursday, being one over through 8 holes, but hitting my targets and good putts. In a situation where I previously might have become impatient, I actually looked over to my caddy and said: “We’re playing very well, they’ll drop soon.” I finally rolled one in on my ninth hole, and then I was off to the races. I shot 30 on the back nine for an opening 65. The second day was not too dissimilar, during which I made zero bogeys en route to a 67. I ended the tournament at -13 after a solid weekend and was hungry for more.

The second event took place at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, which was in absolutely pristine condition. Once again, the greens were very fast and grainy, so I spent most of my time on the putting green in preparation for the first round. I made too many mistakes in the first round with a 74 but carried the momentum from last week, knowing that the game was there to perform for the following three days. The second round started slow as I was 1-over through 8 holes again. I then saw a supporter from my home club GCCZ on tee 9. We chatted and laughed along the fairway, and I made birdie on 9. I then birdied 11, 12, and 13. After the round of 68 and another successful cut, I look back at that event and realize how taking my focus away from forcing birdies, and instead being more jovial with a spectator, actually helped me perform better. Round 3 was up and down, including an eagle and a double bogey, but round 4 was a treat. I was paired with Oscar Craig, for whom Tommy Fleetwood was caddying for that week. I, therefore, had the opportunity to converse with Tommy for 18 holes and shot a fine 67 to close out the tournament and finish T-16, my best ever finish on the Challenge Tour. After the round, Tommy said, “You’ve got game, you’ll go far.” I’ll remember that.

My long game was really what I could thank for the two solid results, something that made me happy since I had been working on calibrating my feels again with my coaches back home here. Ahead of the next tournament, I would like to focus on putting from 5-10 feet as there is room for improvement, but overall happy with my tournaments in the UAE!

I am in action next in Seville, Spain from the 9-12 May. Let’s keep the momentum going!

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